The Gnat Display Team

The Team

The Gnat Display Team, based at North Weald Airfield, is part of The Heritage Aircraft Trust.

Previously known as 'The Red Gnats', the team used to display as a pair in Folland Gnat T1 aircraft: the white-streaked XR538 (G-RORI) and the mostly-red XS111 (G-TIMM).

In 2011 the Trust acquired a third T1: XR991 (G-MOUR). Grounded for more than six years, XR991 flew a 20 minute test flight at North Weald in December 2013 following an extensive overhaul and joined the team for the 2014 season.

Red Gnats

Two of The Gnat Display Team at Duxford in September 2012

The aircraft

XR538 is painted to represent No 4 Flying Training School where it flew for 16 years from the beginning of its RAF service in 1963 until 1979.

XS111 flew with the RAF from late 1962 until 1979, also with No 4 Training Flying School at RAF Valley. It flew with the RAF as XP504 and after 1979 as XM693. The current Red Arrows colour scheme, including the national tail markings and Union flag. Its XS111 registration honours Red Arrows Team Leader, the original Red 1, Ray Hanna.

The 'new' plane is also a T1. Like the other two it served at RAF Valley with No 4 Flying Training School. It is the baby of the trio, joining the RAF in 1964 with serial XS102, but also had the shortest RAF career of around 14 years, leaving the FTS in 1978 and the RAF in 1979. After RAF service it was given a yellow paint scheme and the RAF serial XR991 to represent one of the original Yellowjacks. In the hands of the Gnat Display Team it now carries the registration XR992 and sports the black fin of the Yellowjacks leader, the late Lee Jones.

Another addition

Following the acquisition of another aircraft, the team may also fly a single seat F1 in future years. It was originally assembled in India from parts supplied by Folland in the UK and flown by the Indian Air Force. Following Indian military service it became civilian owned in the USA before being acquired for the Trust.

Tragedy

One of the Gnat Display Team Pilots, Kev Whyman, was killed in a flying accident at CarFest North on 1st August 2015.

Read More

There is more about the Gnat Display Team on their web site. You can keep up to date on their Twitter feed or on Facebook.