Longest-serving Red Arrow retires after 'incredible' career

The Red Arrows' longest-serving pilot Squadron Leader Mike Ling has retired from the RAF after 21 years.

The RAF officer flew for the RAF Aerobatic Team for the final time last October and described his time in the military as 'incredible.'

During his career, Sqn Ldr Ling completed 10 seasons with the Red Arrows, piloting a Red Hawk 2,585 times during 1,765 flying hours.

"It's been a true honour serving Her Majesty and this country, working with the most amazing people," he said on Twitter.

"Thanks to all who made it so brilliant."

Sqn Ldr Ling joined the RAF in 1998, and operationally flew the Tornado F3 over the UK and Falkland Islands.

His first spell with the Red Arrows was as a display pilot, joining in 2007 and flying as Red 3 in the 2008 season, this time including being part of the Synchro Pair, which is formed of Reds 6 and 7 performing opposition manoeuvres during a show.

The pilot then completed six seasons as Red 10, a role which means being the team's supervisor, maintaining contact with the Team Leader and providing commentary at events on the ground.

In 2018, Sqn Ldr Ling returned to the Red Arrows to stand in as Red 3, while Flight Lieutenant David Stark recovered from injuries sustained in a crash at RAF Valley.

When he officially left the Red Arrows in October 2018, he described it as an 'incredible privilege' to have been part of the team.