Red Arrows stage flypast in Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony

The Red Arrows fly over the crowd during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2022. Credit: PA Images

The Red Arrows have said it was "fantastic" to be part of the 2022 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, where they performed a stunning flypast.

The world-famous display team flew over the crowd at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.

A video was later shared to their official social media pages, declaring "Let the games begin".

The Commonwealth Games run until August 8, with more than 6,000 athletes from 72 nations competing across 19 different sports. You can see the full schedule here.

Who are the Red Arrows?

The Red Arrows are the Royal Air Force's aerobatic display team and are instantly recognisable by their distinctive red Hawk fast-jets and plumes of red, white and blue smoke.

Formed in 1964, they have been putting on flying displays since 1965 and are now in their 58th season. As the 'public face' of the RAF, they act as ambassadors for the United Kingdom at home and overseas, and help with recruitment too.

Crowds inside the stadium cheered as the Red Arrows passed overhead.

By the start of 2022, the Red Arrows had flown almost 5,000 displays in 57 countries. They are known for their close formation and precision flying, with trademark moves including the 'Diamond Nine' shape.

The team, made up of pilots, engineers and support staff, has been based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire since 1983.

The Red Arrows regularly put on displays for major events. Credit: PA Images

How many flypasts do the Red Arrows do a year?

During their May to September display season, the Red Arrows often carry out two shows and several flypasts in one day.

The team can only put on a display where invited to do so at public events. The RAF events team manages the application process and makes the final decision on where the Red Arrows perform.

Earlier this month, the Red Arrows paused non-essential flying after being notified of a technical issue.

They have since been cleared to fully resume their displays.

The pilots are known for their close formation and precision flying. Credit: PA Images

What was the itinerary for the Red Arrows flypast on July 28?

The team took off from their base at RAF Scampton at 7:35pm and flew across parts of Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire before appearing in Birmingham skies.

Their route took in the following places:

  • Scampton - 7.35pm

  • South-east of Fiskerton - 7.38pm

  • North-east of Wragby - 7.39pm

  • North of Claxby - 7.40pm

  • North-east of Willingham by Stow - 7.43pm

  • North of Brixholme - 7.44pm

  • Flypast Canwick Lincoln - 7.45pm

  • North-west of Metheringham - 7.46pm

  • North-west of Moulton Seas End - 7.49pm

  • West of Oakham - 7.54pm

  • South of Sutton On Trent - 7.59pm

  • Vicinity of Blackwell - 8.03pm

  • Vicinity of Heanor - 8.04pm

  • East of Wootton - 8.06pm

  • Vicinity of Bromley Wood - 8.08pm

  • West of Lichfield - 8.10pm

  • South-west of Shenstone - 8.11pm

  • Flypast Perry Park - 8.12pm

  • Vicinity of Birmingham - 8.13pm

  • Birmingham AD - 8.18pm

  • South-east of Besthorpe - 8.25pm

  • Scampton - 8.26pm

During display season, the Red Arrows often carry out two shows and several flypasts in one day. Credit: PA Images

How many Red Arrows pilots are there?

Usually nine pilots take to the skies at displays. If one of the pilots is unable to fly, the team flies an eight-plane formation.

However, some events in 2022 might look slightly different.

Earlier this year, the RAF confirmed that the Red Arrows would sometimes display with a seven-aircraft formation, rather than nine.

Some Red Arrows displays might look a little different this year. Credit: PA Images

A spokesperson said: "Two of our formation pilots have moved to other roles within the RAF.

"Performing as a seven-aircraft display is something the Red Arrows often prepare for and have carried out several times in the past when a situation dictates, such as illness or aircraft availability.

"For national flypast events, it is intended that the team will consist of all nine aircraft, with experienced Red Arrows pilots completing the formation."

Red Arrows pilots fly distinctive red Hawk fast-jets. Credit: PA Images

Where are the Red Arrows performing for the rest of 2022?

Details of forthcoming Red Arrows displays can be found on the RAF's website.