Ramsey photographer goes behind the scenes for book on Red Arrows

MOST people only ever get to see the Red Arrows at airshows.

But not Keith Wilson. The Ramsey photographer has spent eight months getting close and personal with the elite flying display team at its base at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire.

He has also travelled with the team to various events around the country, taking pictures for his new book, Red Arrows in Camera.

Mr Wilson, of Wheatfield Drive, said he first saw the Red Arrows as a teenager in the 1960s and never dreamed that he would one day spend time with the country’s finest pilots.

“They are probably the best pilots in the world and their standards are perfection. Anything less is unacceptable,” he said. “I jumped at the opportunity to work with the Red Arrows. Everybody knows who they are and most people in the country, and even the world, have seen them in action. It was incredible but I also wanted to get across more about the team behind the team, as not many people know about the work that keeps these planes flying.”

Mr Wilson, whose business is based at Conington Airfield, has been a pilot for 30 years and taking air-to-air photographs for just as long.

“I’m fortunate that my work allows me to travel all around the world,” he said. “My favourite plane which I have shot is the Vulcan, it’s just a massive, incredible piece of engineering. It’s so loud. It took a lot of effort to get it back into a flying state and I was lucky to be allowed to photograph it on a test programme.”

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Mr Wilson’s time with the Red Arrows coincided with the deaths of Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, whose plane crashed at the Bournemouth Air Festival last August, and Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham who died after he was ejected from his plane while taxiing at base in November.

The book has been dedicated to the two pilots, with 50p from each book sold being donated to the RAF Benevolent Fund.

“It was a massive shock to the whole team when these events happened. Jon was a particularly nice guy, like the rest of the team, and he had a lot of time for people.

“Sean was one of the more experienced pilots in the team.”

Mr Wilson is currently working on a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight project.

The Hunts Post has a signed copy of Red Arrows in Camera to give away to a reader. Just answer the following question to be in with a chance of winning the book. Where are the Red Arrows based? Send your answer on a postcard or sealed envelope to Red Arrows competition, The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TB.

INFORMATION: Red Arrows in Camera is available from WH Smith, Amazon and Waterstone’s in St Neots and costs �25.