The face of the Force: Red 1 talks teamwork, leadership and trust


Performing worldwide as the public face of the Royal Air Force, the Red Arrows are a familiar sight above the skies of Lincolnshire as they train from their base to the north of Lincoln.

As part of the prestigious Great Minds guest lecture series, the University was delighted to welcome Red Arrows Squadron Leader, David Montenegro, also known as Red 1, to speak about 'Teamwork, Leadership and Trust – How and Why the Red Arrows Display on a Global Scale'.


Red 1 David Montenegro

He explained how, although it was his dream to become a fighter pilot, he initially failed to get into the RAF, and instead attended university to study politics and theology: “In my opinion, university was just what I needed,” he explained.

“The relationships I made with my university colleagues are still strong now.”

Squadron Leader Montenegro fulfilled his goal of joining the RAF as a qualified flying instructor in April 1999 before joining the Red Arrows as Red 6, in 2009. He was appointed as team leader earlier this year, and is now in charge of all aspects of the display team, including the running of the training programme and the routines that the Red Arrows demonstrate at events all over the globe.

“I’m very proud to be in the Red Arrows, acting as an ambassador for the UK,” he said.

“With our red, white and blue coloured smoke, we can literally pick up the British flag and take it anywhere in the world.”

He went on to highlight some of the requirements needed to fulfil to join the Red Arrows. As well as a flying test, applicants have to take part in a peer assessment, voting procedure and a 10-day interview.

“You have to be as good on the ground as you are in the air,” Red 1 explained.

Speaking of his passion for the role, Sqn Ldr Montenegro also told the room: “Do something you love, and work won’t feel like work at all,” before rounding off his talk with an audience question and answer session.

The lecture concluded with thanks from Professor Andrew Hunter, Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln, who said: “David Montenegro gave a very inspiring talk. He highlighted the importance of teamwork and persistence, with the key message being to carry on improving yourself despite criticism.”

Afterwards, guests were given the opportunity to view College of Science research projects, including an appearance from Linda the robot; one of six robots under development in the £7.2 million collaborative STRANDS project, where researchers are creating mobile robots that are able to deviate between different environments and react accordingly.

For more information on the University’s ongoing Great Minds lecture series, click here.



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Story credits: Isabel Laycock

November 2014

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