Ray Hanna AFC (with bar) was born in New Zealand on August 28, 1928. He became a pilot and squadron leader in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and flew for a number of civilian companies. While in the RAF, he was a founding member of the Red Arrows. He was the founder of the Old Flying Machine Company and would frequently join airshows around the world to fly vintage warplanes from his collection.
He learned to fly in 1947-1948 in New Zealand before he joined the RAF in 1949. In his initial training, he was taught to fly the Percival Prentice, the North American Harvard, and the Gloster Meteor. He then went on to learn to fly the Hawker Tempest, the Hawker Sea Fury, and the Bristol Beuafighter.
He was assigned originally to No. 79 Squadron. He flew the Meteor FR.9 as part of the NATO Second Allied Tactical Air Force. During this time, he flew a number of early British jet planes. He flew the Havilland Vampire, the de Havilland Venom, the Supermarine Attacker, the Hawker Sea Hawk, the Supermarine Swift and the Gloster Javellin. Early in his career, he lead the four-ship Hunter display team in 1957, then with the Meteor display team which was operated by the College of Air Warfare.
He became a member of the Red Arrows in 1965. He was ‘Red 3.’ The next year, he became team leader, ‘Red 1’. He kept that position for a record four years. As team leader, he grew the team to nine Folland Gnat T Mk1 aircraft, which allowed for the diamond-nine formation that the Red Arrows use to this day. It was during this time that the Red Arrows became a permanent squadron as part of the Central Flying School. In 1971, Hanna left the RAF.
In his post-RAF life, Hanna piloted Boeing 707s for Lloyd International and spent seven years flying 707s and Lockheed Tristars for Cathay Pacific. The Chairman of Cathay, Sir Adrian Sire, asked Hanna to display Swire’s Spitfire LFIXb, MH434. Hanna would be associated with this aircraft for the rest of his life. Hanna and his son, Mark, started the OId Flying Machine Company in 1981 to display vintage military aircraft. The OFMC purchased MH434 at an auction in 1983.
There are many television shows and feature films that include OFMC aircraft and pilots including Piece of Cake, Empire of the Sun, Memphis Belle, Saving Private Ryan and Tomorrow Never Dies. In a famous scene from Piece of Cake, Hanna flew his Spitfire under the bridge at Winston, near Bernard Castle.
Hanna’s final performance occurred in October 2005 at the annual Duxford Autumn Airshow. Hanna passed away from natural causes on December 1, 2005 in Switzerland. He was buried at St. Mary’s Church, Parham in Suffolk on December 15, 2005.
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What a guy!
And the next one
OK – some swearing in this clip BUT you will understand why!!!