Muscat’s skies were streaked with magnificent shapes of multi-coloured smoke as the world-famous Red Arrows showcased their aerobatic artistry for Oman.
At first, they were just specks in the distance but then came the sound. It was a rumble at first, and that grew into a mighty roar as 12 Hawk T1s thundered over thousands of onlookers gathered on Shatti al Qurum beach as smoke was billowing in the bright blue sky behind them.
There was no mistaking it: the Red Arrows, also known as the UK’s Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, had arrived in town for their one-off, adrenaline-packed aerobatic display.
The crowds were in for a treat, with the highly trained Red Arrow pilots putting on a colourful aerial display that showcased their precision as they performed death-defying feats of “formation aerobatics”.
In Oman as part of their biggest overseas tour in a decade, which has seen them also perform in China, India, Singapore and Malaysia, the Red Arrows’ performance coincided with Oman’s 46th National Day celebrations.
Group Captain Fein Mohahan, the Chief of the Red Arrows team, said: “We are proud of this participation that reflects the extent of the cooperation between the Sultanate and the United Kingdom, and I am very happy to be in the Sultanate for its good reputation of hospitality and generosity.”
Since being established in 1965, the Red Arrows, which are based at RAF Scampton, in Lincolnshire in the UK, have flown more than 4,725 displays in 57 countries and have been seen by millions of people around the world. The team puts on displays every summer, but for eight intensive months of the year, they train and practise their manoeuvres at their home base.
And it was these formations that the residents of Muscat witnessed last Sunday, as the Red Arrows turned and twisted and even “drew” a love heart in the skies above Shatti, drawing huge cheers from the crowd.
The flybys were spectacularly vivid, with red, white and blue smoke streaming behind the Hawk T1s.
“It was so loud, but incredible to see,” said one onlooker.
“It’s amazing what they can do and I can imagine that hours and hours of practice goes into everything they do. My favourite was the love heart – to me, it showed their love for Oman and that they were happy to be here.”