Photo: John Taggart

LONDON – As part of its centennial celebrations, British Airways will be operating a special flypast alongside the Royal Air Force Red Arrows flight display team on the upcoming International Air Tattoo, set to launch on July 20.

The flypast will have the airline’s recently painted Boeing 747-400, which carries the historic British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) livery, flying next to the world famous Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.

Photo: Stuart Bailey

Captain Richard Allen-Williams, who has been flying with British Airways for 17 years, will be in command of the BOAC 747 during the display. “We have been overwhelmed by how our heritage liveries have been received by customers and colleagues,” he said.

“There’s certainly an air of excitement and pride and we’re sure the sight of our BOAC liveried 747 will provide a wonderfully nostalgic moment for the Air Tattoo audience.”

This flypast will not be the first for British Airways at the Air Tattoo event, however. The British flag carrier has a long history of operating special flights, the most memorable showcasing Concorde, which performed a jaw-dropping flypast in 1985—the first time British Airways attended the event.

Since then, the carrier has carried out multiple flypasts with its Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A380 all over the UK, including special Royal events and the birthday of London-Heathrow Airport.

But British Airways says that the upcoming BOAC 747-400 flypast with the Red Arrows will be one of the biggest and most memorable flypasts in UK history.

“Flying alongside this British Airways Boeing 747 will be an exciting and memorable moment for both the pilots in the air and those watching on the ground,” said Andrew Keith, Officer Commanding from Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.

Captain Allen-Williams said being “honored to fly alongside the Red Arrows at RAF Fairford this summer.”


“I know the wider Red Arrows’ team have worked hard with British Airways counterparts and Air Tattoo staff for many months to create this opportunity.”

According to Keith, last year’s Royal Air Force’s own centenary celebrations “demonstrated the importance of using these high-profile occasions to inspire the next generation and we hope this flypast will be another chance to do that.”

British Airways Centennial Liveries

The BOAC livery is one of four vintage paint schemes that British Airways has released this year.

Three Boeing 747s were painted with the BOAC livery (1952-1974), the Negus livery (1974-1980), and the iconic Landor livery (1984-1997). Lastly, an Airbus A319 was painted with the BEA Britsh European Airways livery.

With the recent news that British Airways would not be operating the special 747 aircraft on domestic flights, it will be good news for many today as people will have the opportunity to travel from around the world to see a once in a lifetime flypast.