Ray Hanna

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It is with great sadness that we announce the death yesterday of former Red Arrows' pilot Ray Hanna. As Flight Lieutenant Ray Hanna, he flew as Red 3 on the first Red Arrows team in 1965, before promotion to Squadron Leader and a four year tour as Red 1 in the years 1966 - 1969. Under his leadership, the Team flew for the first time as a nine-ship and received worldwide acclaim for their dynamic precision formation flying. In recognition, a bar was added to the AFC Ray had previously been awarded for several feats of airmanship.

Ray was born in New Zealand and joined the Royal Air Force in 1949 having learned to fly in New Zealand in 1947. His first operational posting was to 79 Squadron, 2nd Tactical Air Force in Germany flying FR9 Meteors. In the fifties, Ray flew nearly all the early British jets including Vampires, Venoms, Attackers, Sea Hawks, Swifts and Javelins.

In 1963/4 he was a member of the College of Air Warfare Meteor Display Team before joining The Red Arrows in 1965.

Ray retired from the Royal Air Force in 1971 for a career in civil aviation, initially on the Boeing 707 with Lloyd International Airways followed by seven years with Cathay Pacific. In 1979 he was asked to head a private diplomatic company flying the Boeing 707.

In 1981, Ray set up the Old Flying Machine Company with his son Mark with the intention of preserving and maintaining rare vintage aircraft in airworthy condition. With one of the largest collections of flying warbirds in the world, Ray continued to thrill airshow, TV and film audiences long after leaving The Red Arrows, flying all of the Old Flying Machine Company piston types and the Hunter.

Ray was undoubtedly one of the most respected figures in the world-wide aviation community, and will be much missed. Our thoughts are with Ray's family.

Added by: Jonathan Haward on 28th February 2006.


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Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
67 Portland Place, London W1B 1AR
0800 169 2942
Registered Charity No. 1081009