PICTURE UPDATE: Red Arrows give Cromer carnival day high flying start

The world famous Red Arrows wowed thousands of eager spectators with their aerial acrobatics over Cromer's skies today.

But there was a distinct difference to the nine-strong flying team as the lead plane used in the display was black, rather than the squad's trademark red.

Squadron Leader Graeme Bagnall, who gave a running commentary from the carnival field, explained this was due to technical difficulties with one of the jets, so a spare Hawk training plane had to be used instead.

The change did not dampen spirits among the huge crowd, which gathered along the seafront to watch the awe inspiring display of precision flying, and clapped and cheered when the team pulled off their more technical manoeuvres.

Red Arrows fan Yaz Yiasimi, 49, said: 'It was a marvellous display, it always is. I love watching them, we try and come to the carnival every year.'

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Crowds were treated to one of the Arrows' new moves during this morning's show - the whirlwind, where the pilots simultaneously rolled 360 degrees. They also completed breathtaking passes and drew incredible shapes and patterns across the sky - including a massive heart - by trailing their distinctive blue and red smoke.

This year's line up also featured the Arrows' first ever female pilot Kirsty Stewart, who has previously flown from RAF Marham near Kings Lynn.

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Sqn Ldr Bagnall thanked the crowds after the 20-minute display and the organisers for the team's much-anticipated lunch.

'It's now a tradition to have Cromer crab for lunch on this day,' he added. 'It's a real pleasure to be here. In my three years you have always brought beautiful weather and you can hear on the radio how much the pilots enjoy it.'

Carnival day celebrations continue this afternoon ahead of the parade, which starts at 7pm.

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