Sheffield’s two Red Arrows pilots doing the city proud

The Red Arrows’ dazzling displays have made them one of Britain’s best-known exports, and Sheffield can now boast two pilots among the nine-strong team.

Flight Lieutenant Damon 'Damo' Green, who grew up in Woodhouse Mill, and Squadron Leader Steve Morris, who hails from Mosborough, are representing the Steel City on the elite flying squad.

Red Arrows pilots Flight Lieutenant Damon 'Damo' Green and Squadron Leader Steve Morris (pic: SAC Rose Buchanan)

Red Arrows pilots Flight Lieutenant Damon 'Damo' Green and Squadron Leader Steve Morris (pic: SAC Rose Buchanan)

They will be soaring as little as six feet from each other at speeds of around 400mph, while enduring gravitational forces of up to 7g, as they wow crowds below with their daring routines.

READ MORE: Untold sacrifice made by Sheffield’s armed forces community missing milestone family moments due to overseas missions

A place in the Red Arrows represents the pinnacle of a career in the RAF, with only the cream of the cream getting the chance to take the controls of one of the brightly emblazoned Hawk jets.

As the team’s PR representative, Flying Officer Mike Fox, puts it, pilots account for only about one per cent of the RAF's personnel, and the intense competition for a coveted spot with the Arrows means they represent around ‘one per cent of that one per cent’.

The Red Arrows take to the skies over RAF Scampton during training this autumn (pic: Cpl Ashley Keates)

The Red Arrows take to the skies over RAF Scampton during training this autumn (pic: Cpl Ashley Keates)

“For two guys who grew up so close to one another in the same city to be flying the flag for the UK around the world with the Red Arrows is very rare,” he adds.

READ MORE: Veterans march through Sheffield to mark Armed Forces Day

They began training last week and are putting their bodies through the mill in preparation for their first public displays next year.

The full schedule has yet to be drawn up and it is not yet known whether they will grace the skies above Sheffield, but their duties will include a tour of the US and traditional events like the Queen’s The Queen's birthday flypast over Buckingham Palace.

For Damon, this is his first stint with the Arrows but Steve is returning after representing them between 2013 and 2016.

READ MORE: Bishop of Sheffield reserves seats for the war dead at dramatic project launch

Damon, who is aged 34 and married to RAF admin officer Nicola, attended Aston Comprehensive School and had planned to be a lawyer before joining the air squadron at the University of Bath, where he was reading maths, and setting his heart on becoming a pilot.

After completing his training, he served with the 100 Squadron throughout Europe and later the Typhoon force on operations in the Middle East, for which he was awarded a prestigious Joint Commander’s Commendation.

“Steve and I are both very proud of our Sheffield roots and what we’ve achieved. There are quite a few jokes within the team about having two Sheffield lads,” he said.

“The Red Arrows have been putting on brilliant displays all over the world for years, and you’re definitely aware of the pressure to maintain that reputation, but they all went through the same training as us and we’re in the best position to keep up the standard.”

Steve attended Westfield Comprehensive School before doing his A-levels at The Sheffield College and then studying aerospace engineering at the University of Sheffield.

He joined the RAF in 2002 and after graduating from advanced flying training he became a qualified flying instructor with the 208 Squadron.

The 37-year-old, who is also married to an RAF admin officer, Hannah, flew Harrier Jump Jets and Tornadoes before representing the Red Arrows, during which time the team's first ever tour of China was a personal highlight.

For the past two years has been training fast-jet pilots in Wales using Hawk T2 jets, which are newer and more sophisticated than those flown by the Red Arrows.

However, he says he prefers the older model – comparing it to a classic sports car, which handles like a dream – even if it lacks some of the latest technology.

For Steve, who is a huge sports fan, becoming a fast-jet pilot and joining the Red Arrows had been a dream since he joined the Air Cadets aged 13.

“It’s a huge privilege to be back on the team, and I’m particularly excited about the US tour next year,” he said.

“It’s very challenging but that’s true of any role within the RAF. You’re training three times a day, five days a week, and sometimes when your wife maybe wants to go for a meal on Friday evening or your friends are going out on the town, all you want to do is crash out on the sofa.”