Ray Hanna

Just been informed Ray Hanna died in his sleep last night.

Absolutely gutted.

No one could throw a Spitfire around like him, or take one that low at full chat either. He helped me in the past with advice and not a little guidance when I was involved with warbird hunting many moons ago.


Ray Hanna - Most people associate Ray with his time as leader of the Red Arrows. If anything, the subsequent years have added to that lustre with displays on a variety of historic aircraft but in particular that most famous of Spitfires, MH 434, previously owned by Sir Adrian Swire and now owned and operated by OFMC. It was the Royal Air Force that provided Ray with the training and experience that has led him to become one of the most accomplished display pilots in the world. Ray joined the Royal Air Force in 1949 having learned to fly in New Zealand in 1947/48. Following training on the Prentice, Harvard and Meteor he was fortunate enough to fly such piston types as the Tempest V, Sea Fury, Balliol and Beaufighter. His first operational posting was to 79 Squadron, 2ATAF flying FR9 Meteors.

Formation aerobatics became the norm in most fighter squadrons during this period and Ray first led a team of four Hunters in 1957. In the fifties, he flew nearly all the early British jets including Vampires, Venoms, Attackers, Sea Hawks, Swifts and Javelins. In 1963/64 he was a member of the College of Air Warfare Meteor Team and then joined the Red Arrows as No 3 in 1965. It was his leadership of the team from 1966/69 that was to bring world-wide acclaim and to Ray a bar to his AFC previously awarded for several feats of airmanship.

Ray retired from the Royal Air Force in 1971 for a new career in civil aviation, initially on the Boeing 707 with Lloyd International Airways followed by seven years with Cathay Pacific, again with the 707, and for two years the Lockheed L-1011 Tri-Star. In 1979 he was asked to head a private diplomatic 707 company with world-wide operations.

Ray was co-founder of OFMC with his son Mark. Ray passed away on the 2 December 2005.
RIP Ray , you'll be very missed on the scene.


War Hero
Absolutely gutted.
I know Ray quite well and knew his son Mark very well until sad events in 1999.

A legend of a man and a legendary family.



War Hero
God of the sky!!! sorry the powers that be are not sending you off in style like Geroge Best... You should of drank beer like a fish I surpose. Anyway you are in the right place now, RIP.
Ralf, you are so right... didnt know Ray but had the pleasure of seeing him fly...I imagine he's doing a few low passes with a some of the other greats at this very moment.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ray last year. An absoloute legend and such a humble chap.

I can remember at one airshow in one of the mass briefs where there was lots of chit chat as the Airshow co-ord was attempting to brief the 200 or so crews. He asked Ray if his chaps were 'sorted'. The room went quiet as Ray, in a hushed voice said 'yep, we're fine'. Such was the respect Ray had over all present. To me and many others, he was like a film star. He will be greatly missed and my heartfelt sympathies go out to his family at this time.

Biggin Hill 2004

(Ralf, no truer words said unfortunatley)
The air show world will not be the same withouth him - never met him, but saw him fly on may occasions - a sad sad loss of a truly excellent pilot.
iam always at the air shows he will be greatly missed as was mark .
i bet the pair of the are putting their Angle wings through the paces !
A sad, sad day.

One day, in 1995, during a display for my town's Golden Victory celebrations, I remember seeing MH434 appearing out of the mist over the Colne estuary, just above the wavetops.

For most of the audience on the promenade it was probaby the first time they'd ever had to look down to see a Spitfire!

The following display was pure genius and, despite a low cloudbase, Ray Hanna showed what could be done with a beautiful and refined old lady; he made her dance like a young girl...

I hope he's still got his hands on the controls and he's still making her dance...

There's some wonderful tributes to Ray Hanna here from people who knew him at different stages of his career.


There's also accounts of the funeral by people who were there
and some very moving photographs.

Ray Hanna's Memorial Service was held last Thursday.

RAF St Clement Dane's was packed.
It was a truly wonderful occasion.

I can't compete with the descriptions on this link.
Definitely worth reading.

There are photos - including De Cadenet the commentator in that amazing Spitfire video clip.

Click for LINK

The same link now has the full versions of the eulogy at the funeral and the memorial service. Good stuff about the early days of the Reds. Look for posts last weekend the 1st anniversary of his death.
If you look back a bit, there are good photos of the Reds flying the Gnat etc - LOW!!

Similar threads

Latest Threads