Red Arrows and Brattleby discussion page

We have started a discussion with the Red Arrows to seek reduction of the negative side effects on our quality of life by the activities of the aircrafts.

We are in general as proud of the team as anyone of the general public. However we do hope to make efforts to at least reduce some of the negative side effects on members of our community.

If you have comments, please use the feedback option or attend one of our Parish Council meetings. We appreciate your views in this matter.

Letter dated 12 February to the Red Arrows in response to letter dated 20 January by Wing Commander Jas Hawker (see attached pdf below)

Dear Wing Commander Jas Hawker,

Recently some members of the community in Brattleby expressed concerns about the noise level of the activities of the Red Arrows above the village. You have been made aware of this by a visit from Mr Mike Spencer and Mr Jerry Scott from Brattleby PC, and via a phone call from Mrs Jackson, to which you responded in your letter dated January 20, 2009.

I have been asked to attempt to clarify our concerns once more. We appreciate your explanations, but they seem to touch on matters other than the concerns of our community. We do not dispute that many people enjoy the performance of the Red Arrows. We do not dispute that the pilots have to train and that it isn’t easy to find space to do so. 

 What we do dispute is your apparent suggestion that there is no way to heed both your needs and ours. Part of this suggestion is that it is sufficient to measure noise and pollution levels ‘objectively’, i.e. physically. We feel that our concerns arise from the lack of attention to how the activities of the Red Arrows are experienced subjectively.  

To explain this further it seems useful to refer to the introduction of the notion of a subjective or ‘feel’ wind speed or ‘feel’ temperature – as a way to express something that goes beyond the physical measurement of wind speed and temperature, but is important to people’s activities and for that reason has been included in weather forecasts. 

What we would like to see is an adaptation of your flight schedules to the point that planes are no longer ‘felt’ to fly right over our homes, especially as it is also felt that there are reasonable alternatives. People ‘feel’ somebody flying right above them is when they cannot see the plane even when craning and bending their necks.

It is of course of little comfort to the community that you claim to monitor your planes and to take our health and safety concerns seriously – if what you talk about is how you see them and not the way we interpret them. My guess is that to you 12 meters is just a deviation of the planned path. To us it is the difference between bearable noise and pans rattling in the kitchen.

In this context we also note that your map appears to indicate that there are villages above which you are not allowed to fly. One possibility is that we apply for the same status if that would help you. Another is that we discuss small ‘deviations’ of your flight paths to minimise the ‘feel’ level of the noise and of the diesel pollution on our houses and gardens.

I would appreciate a date and time to discuss and resolve these issues as soon as possible. Your letter to Mrs Jackson suggests that you are aware that noise and pollution are not only (subjectively or objectively) measurable, but rather the result of planning and organisation. We propose to discuss the latter, to change the former – not the other way round. 

Yours sincerely,

 (signed in the hard copy)

On behalf of the Red Arrows Brattleby Village Committee

Prof Gerard de Zeeuw

Glebe Farm


Lincoln LN1 2SQ



In the discussions of our committee the following distinctions came to the fore. They may be of help when discussing ways to alleviate our concerns.  


The issue is that the syncho-pair appears to be accelerating over the village. This is experienced as a sudden increase in noise, which is quite intrusive. It disrupts people’s activities. The same is due to the expectation that a similar change will happen again. It would seem that acceleration might take place at some other point. 

Flight path

The issue is the claimed need not only to perform in front of the ‘crowd’, but also to do so above their heads and sometimes at very low altitudes. Some residents feel that they are not happy to serve as a simulacrum of a real crowd. Trees would serve as well. A disabling fear is that something might go wrong, and people would suffer – actually rather than virtually.


The diesel dispersed by the aircraft is a major worry. Although you claim that only a few particles reach the ground, residents sometimes notice a thick fog in closed areas and between hedges. Another concern is that many residents have a vegetable garden. We would welcome the use of diesel above less immediately sensitive areas. 

Meeting 2 September 2008 

Following various complaints form residents regarding low flying and excessive noise during the Red Arrows ‘over-flying’ Brattleby, the Parish Council sought a meeting with Wing Commander Mark Coleman officer commanding RAF Scampton.

On the 2nd of September 2008, Jerry Scott and Mike Spencer attended a meeting with Wing Commander Coleman.

During the initial briefing, answers were sought to the following questions.

  1. Are the team flying lower this season?
  2. Why will it be necessary to over-fly Brattleby after the team re-locates to RAF Waddington?
  3. Would it be possible to alter the flight path to avoid the village?
  4. Why is it necessary to use full power over the village?
  5. Environmental considerations regarding pollution from aviation fuel and colorant.

Both Jerry and Mike were of the opinion the above questions were offered full and frank discussion.

W/Co Coleman said, as far as he was aware the team were not flying lower this season, but would seek confirmation of this.

Unfortunately, airspace restrictions caused by operations from other active airfields in the area – RAF, civil and other ‘no fly zones’ operational limitations necessitates the use of Scampton as the only available airspace.

As a result of the sector of available airspace is by nature very narrow, causing the requirement of tight turns during operations. This was explained in some detail, with the aid of airspace maps.

The majority of manoeuvres during practice take place within the airfield boundaries and over the longitudinal orientation of the runway. Unfortunately due to parts of the airspace to the East of the A15 being unavailable, the ‘re-grouping’ manoeuvre necessitates the ‘over-flying’ of Brattleby.

Again, Jerry and Mike both felt the explanations given were valid, within the bounds of the applied restrictions.

The issue of the possibility of fuel and colorant pollution to the public and the environment proved to be somewhat subjective. A number of tests have been carried out, none of which have shown any risk to the public or the environment, due to the height of the aircraft and dispersal of smoke by the wind. However, W/Co Coleman has promised to provide MOD information on this subject, and an O/S map showing Scampton airspace, and exclusion zones in the surrounding area.

It is anticipated this information will be available for discussion at the next Parish Council meeting, during which both Mike and Jerry will be happy to answers questions where possible.

M. Spencer, chairman, 07/09/08