RAF Red Pelicans1958 Season
The era of the Jet Provost aerobatic teams begun as early as 1958, when the Central Flying School based at RAF Little Rissington formed a 4-ship team of Jet Provost T.1s, known simply as 'The Sparrows'. The unit had previously flown 4 Hunting-Percival Piston Provosts and had just received re-equipped with the Jet Provost the previous year.
The CFS put up a two ship team for the 1959 season, known as 'The Redskins'.
During the latter part of 1959 deliveries CFS received the first six Jet Provost T.3s and the T.1s were slowly phased out of service, and as a result the existing Redskins team was disbanded. However the unit formed a new 4-ship team in preparation for the 1960 season, called "The Pelicans." The team's aircraft had no special markings applied, but wore the standard silver and orange day-glo training colours of the day.
The team continued until halfway through the 1962 airshow season, at the same time the T.4 Jet Provost was beginning to arrive on strength.
1962-64 Seasons Halfway through the 1962 season the team re-equipped with four Jet Provost T.4s and a smoke system was also fitted to each of the display aircraft. The "Red Pelicans" team was born, and they performed at shows up and down the country, including the annual SBAC show Farnborough in September 1962. The 1963 season saw the team extended to six aircraft under the leadership of Flt Lt Ian Bashall, and the aircraft in a new colour scheme. Their standard training colours were replaced by a overall dayglo-red scheme, and the Red Pelicans performed at displays in Belgium and France as well as across venues in the UK.
At the end of the season the RAF decided that the "Red Pelicans" should continue as the official Royal Air Force aerobatic team for the 1964 airshow season, replacing the RAF 56 Sqn. "Firebirds" Lightning team in the role, which could no longer be spared for display purposes.
The 1964 Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team was captained by Flt Lt T.E.I. Lloyd, who took the six-ship team to participate in shows in Belgium, France, Netherlands and Norway in addition to their UK display commitments. During the latter part of the season the team gave co-ordinated displays with the RAF's first Gnat-equipped team, the "Yellowjacks" from No 4 FTS at Valley, and the team again appeared at SBAC Farnborough in September 1964. The bright lemon yellow Gnats complemented the red Jet Provosts well, and it soon started to earn a reputation for being a superb aerobatic mount.
As a result of this the type was chosen as equipment for the 1965 RAF Aerobatic Team - the "Red Arrows".
With the newly-formed Red Arrows in place as the RAF's premier aerobatic team, the Red Pelicans subsequently trimmed down to four aircraft without a smoke system facility, and were all re-painted into a post-box-red scheme.
The 4-ship team continued to participate in shows across the UK for the next five seasons.
In spring 1970 the team re-equipped with the last variant of the Jet Provost delivered, the T.5. They continued for a further four seasons before the team disbanded permanently at the end of the 1973 season, bringing the curtain down on 15 years of CFS Jet Provost teams.