A NORTHUMBERLAND woman has been chosen to take charge of the Red Arrows – as they fly over her former home town tomorrow.
Ruth Shackleton, who was born in South Shields and then grew up in Northumberland, has been appointed as the new team manager for the famous RAF display team.
And one of her first jobs will be to oversee the team’s display at tomorrow’s Great North Run.
The 37-year-old said: “I was born in South Tyneside General Hospital and lived in Mowbray Road until I was four. We then moved to Morpeth and then Cornhill-on-Tweed in Northumberland.
“I can’t put into words to describe how proud I am to be part of the most famous aerobatic team in the world.
“And when the team fly over my old house and the hospital where I was born on Sunday, that will be a special moment for me.”
Ruth has joined the Red Arrows at their home base RAF Scampton, in Lincolnshire, and will stay with the team, which has seven pilots and around 90 other staff, for two years.
Her job includes co-ordinating where the team stays, organising engineers, photographers and flight planners and getting the team to its displays.
Ruth, who was previously squadron leader operations at RAF Coningsby, home to the Eurofighter Typhoon and Battle of Britain Flight, added: “I feel particularly privileged to have been chosen to be the team manager for the finest aerobatic display team in the world.
“I relish the prospect of this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
After moving to Cornhill-on-Tweed with parents David and Irene she went to Trinity College Glenalmond, a boarding school in Perthshire, and became the first ever female cadet in the college’s combined cadet force.
Instead of attending university, Ruth worked as a flight attendant with Saudi Arabian Airlines before joining the RAF as a flight operations officer. She is currently studying for an MSc in air transport management with London City University.
Her career in the RAF took off after she joined up at the age of 24 and then progressed through the ranks. Ruth has had stints in the Falkland Islands and Kuwait and became the first operations officer for the UK Joint Helicopter Force at Basrah International Airport.
In 2008, she was sent to Kandahar, Afghanistan, as the senior duty officer for an airfield.
Ruth, who is also a mezzo soprano soloist and continues to perform in concerts, enjoys travelling and has visited some of the most remote regions of the world. She is a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.
She said: “What a day tomorrow will be. I have only been in my new role for two weeks and I’m back in South Shields where my life began. It is such a privilege.”