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Air Tattoo Blog

British Airways Flypast: Captain's Q&A

Published: 27 Jun 2019


The Air Tattoo is famous for unique flypasts and this year will be no exception. Saturday 20 July will see a British Airways Boeing 747-400, painted in heritage British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) livery, flying with the Red Arrows.

Taking a busy airliner away from its day job and displaying it in front of tens of thousands of people is a big undertaking, so we've spoken to Captain Richard Allen-Williams to find out more about what is involved from a flight crew's perspective.

What are you feelings about being involved in a flypast like this; during both British Airways' 100th anniversary celebrations and the Boeing 747's 50th anniversary?
It is a tremendous privilege and honour to be able to participate in the celebration of British Airways' centenary year at RIAT. The Boeing 747 is an iconic aircraft and with it too celebrating a big birthday, makes the occasion even more significant. As a pilot, flying alongside the Red Arrows will be a very special moment.

We are used to seeing mixed formations at the Air Tattoo. What are some of the considerations when you're planning a formation with multiple fast jet aircraft?
Safety is our priority always. My colleagues and I have spent considerable time planning the routing to ensure we are able to provide a spectacular display whilst maintaining the highest level of safety in our operation. We have worked with the Red Arrows to understand how we can assist in making their formation task easier, which ultimately involves smooth and timely control inputs from us with clear communication over a shared radio frequency.

Will you have a special callsign for the flypast?
Whilst not yet confirmed our callsign is likely to be Speedbird 100.

How many crew will be onboard the 747, and what will their roles be?
A total of four flight crew will be on-board the aircraft.
  • Captain Richard Allen-Williams - Commander and Pilot Flying
  • Senior First Officer Tom Perrins - Pilot Monitoring, ATC comms, external lookout and timings
  • Captain Jonny Lutton - Safety Pilot, external lookout, monitoring, lateral and vertical profile oversight and third-party communications inflight
  • Captain Simon Scholey - Safety Pilot, monitoring of communications between all parties, ensurance planned profiles and procedures are adhered to, additional safety oversight
We'll also have our Flight Technical Manager, Christine Perkins managing the cameras filming the occasion.

British Airways Airbus A380 flying with the Red Arrows at the 2013 Air Tattoo

“It was an epic spectacle, as magical as anything you've ever seen in the West End, and as loud as anything you've ever heard at Knebworth.”

Jeremy Clarkson, Television Presenter

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Jenson Button, Former Formula 1 Racing Driver

“Probably the most complete air show I’ve ever been to!”

Al Worden, Apollo 15 Astronaut

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Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut

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