RAF fighter pilot from Harborough has been chosen to fly for the Red Arrows

Flt Lt Patrick Kershaw says he feels “honoured and privileged”

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 11:12 pm
Flight Lieutenant Patrick Kershaw, Red 3 for 2022. Photo: MoDCrown Copyright 2021

A brilliant RAF fighter pilot from Market Harborough is walking on cloud nine after being chosen to fly for the elite Red Arrows.

Flt Lt Patrick Kershaw, 36, said he feels “honoured and privileged” after passing a tough recruitment and assessment course to join the RAF’s aerobatic team with flying colours.

And the top pilot said he’ll be thrilled to give Market Harborough a special wave next time he flies over the town – where he still has many proud family and friends.

Flight Lieutenant Patrick Kershaw (right) with an existing Red Arrows pilot, following one of his first sorties with the team. Photo: MoDCrown Copyright 2021

Based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, Flt Lt Kershaw exclusively told the Harborough Mail this afternoon: “It’s an absolute honour and a privilege to join the Red Arrows team for 2022.

“It still does seem very surreal, I have to pinch myself at times that I’ve done it! It’s just incredible.

“It’s a huge responsibility as well because we are showcasing the best of the Royal Air Force and representing the RAF as well as the UK,” said married Flt Lt Kershaw, who attended Guilsborough School.

“And all of us in the Red Arrows have to trust each other implicitly with our lives.

Flight Lieutenant Patrick Kershaw, Red 3, flying in one of his first Red Arrows training sorties alongside Reds 1 and 2. Photo: MoDCrown Copyright 2021

“But that’s where all the excellent training, the discipline, the skills and the expertise that we have built up over the years in the RAF kicks in.”

Nominated to be Red 3 for 2022, Patrick narrowly failed to be selected for the world-famous aerobatics team in 2019 before giving it another shot in April this year.

“We all flew off to Greece in the spring for the very demanding selection process.

“We had to do two loops and two barrel rolls very close up to see how smooth your flying is and check your ability.

The Red Arrows are famous for their Diamond Nine formation. Photo: MoDCrown Copyright 2021

“We flew up to three times a day in our Hawk T1s – and I used to teach on the Hawk,” said Flt Lt Kershaw, who’s carried out challenging operational missions over war-torn Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya.

“We really were thrown in at the deep end.

“I also had to do an interview with a Group Captain as well as Red 1 and Red 11 – Wing Commander David Montenegro, the officer commanding the Red Arrows.

“So it was pretty high-powered.

“And I had to do a media interview as well as be assessed by my peers in the team too.

“So I obviously had some nerves after I was disappointed not to make it in 2019,” said the vastly-experienced supersonic fighter pilot.

“It was a setback at the time.

“It was also frustrating as I couldn’t apply to do it again last year because of Covid.

“But most pilots pass on their second or third attempts anyway.

“Perseverance is critical in the military – and I was determined to try again.”

Patrick, who has a brother Tom, 33, and sisters Clare, 40, and Catherine, 38, flew with the Red Arrows to the United Arab Emirates to represent the UK at Expo 2020 Dubai last month.

The crack frontline pilot has also been carrying out intensive training with his new Red Arrows team-mates at RAF Valley in Anglesey and RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire.

“We all need supreme coolness, presence of mind and the ability to think and act on the spot.

“My wife thinks it’s funny because I might get stressed out about something at home.

“She tells me I’m a fighter jet pilot, I shouldn’t get stressed!

“But when I go to work I’m doing the job I’ve been training for at the highest levels for years,” said Flt Lt Kershaw, who joined the RAF in 2006.

“I’m very confident in my own ability.

“We train non-stop.

“And you learn to trust and rely on your colleagues’ abilities as well – it becomes second nature.”

Over the last few years Flt Lt Kershaw has been flying the RAF’s world-class 1,400mph Typhoon multi-role combat aircraft from RAF Coninsgby in Lincolnshire.

“It’s an incredible aircraft, just so powerful.

“I’ve loved flying the Typhoon.

“But you’ve got to be careful because you can pull a gravitational force of 9G and you could black out – so we have to wear special equipment,” he said.

Flt Lt Kershaw did a degree in business administration at Leicester De Montfort University after leaving Guilsborough School.

The genuine high-flyer cut his teeth with East Midlands Universities’ Air Squadron before going on to join the RAF 15 years ago.

He was selected to fly fast-jets and following training was posted to the Tornado GR4 at RAF Marham in Norfolk.

Extolling the iconic Red Arrows, Patrick said: “Innovation, precision, teamwork are all at the forefront of what we do in the team and these qualities are shared throughout numerous industries in the UK.

“Being able to represent this as an ambassador for the next three years will be a privilege and honour.”

Flt Lt Kershaw is one of nine Red Arrows display pilots.

Before being eligible to apply, he had to clock up at least 1,500 flying hours, be classed as above average in his flying role and have completed an operational tour.

Flt Lt Kershaw will do a three-year tour both at home and overseas with the legendary Red Arrows before he expects to return to flying the Typhoon.

Asked why he wanted to join the world’s most revered aerobatics team, he said: “Firstly, the challenge of achieving the highest standards in order to provide the safest and most thrilling display possible for the public.

“Secondly, the other big driver, is being able to meet the public before and after displays and be able to showcase the skills and capabilities of the RAF.

“I’m really looking forward to flying over my home town of Market Harborough with the Red Arrows over the next three years.

“And I’ll be giving all of my family and friends in the town and area an extra-special wave, I’ll be very proud,” said Flt Lt Kershaw, whose parents Graham and Christine live near Market Harborough.

His ecstatic family told the Mail today: “As a family we are incredibly proud of what Patrick has achieved so far during his RAF career.

“To join the Red Arrows after such an intense selection process is an incredible achievement and we cannot wait to watch him at air shows and see him in the skies above Market Harborough.”

Details of where the Red Arrows will be displaying in 2022 will be released in the New Year.

The team’s full pilot line-up for the next season is:

Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – Wing Commander David Montenegro

Red 1 and Team Leader – Squadron Leader Tom Bould

Red 2 – Flight Lieutenant Stuart Roberts

Red 3 – Flight Lieutenant Patrick Kershaw

Red 4 – Flight Lieutenant Will Cambridge

Red 5 – Squadron Leader Nick Critchell

Red 6 and Synchro Leader – Squadron Leader Gregor Ogston

Red 7 and Synchro Two – Flight Lieutenant James Turner

Red 8 and Executive Officer – Flight Lieutenant Damo Green

Red 9 – Flight Lieutenant David Simmonds

Red 10 and Supervisor (from March 2022) – Squadron Leader Graeme Muscat.