HUNDREDS of Red Arrows’ fans packed a special event in Bournemouth, where they got the chance to meet their heroes.

Queues built up two hours before the meet and greet, which took place not long before the RAF flyers were due to jump into their Hawk jets to wow tens of thousands of air festival visitors over Bournemouth beach.

Red 10 Squadron Leader Adam Collins told the Daily Echo: “For us being the PR face and the media face of the Royal Air Force, it is really important for us to meet our fans.

“People give up lots of their time to come to the shows, and it is occasions like this when we have a proper opportunity to sit down and chat to them. This is a very important part of our job.”

Squadron Leader Collins, who has taken up the position as Red 10 for the first time this year, said it felt great to be in Bournemouth, a town he knows well.

“I went to university in Southampton so I know Bournemouth reasonably well.

“It is one of the biggest shows in the country in terms of spectator numbers.

“The atmosphere is amazing, it is a really enjoyable three days."

By the beginning of this year, the Red Arrows’ 54th season, the team had flown almost 4,900 displays in 57 countries.

Other display teams at the meet and greet event included the Tigers Parachute Team, the Ravens, Otto the Helicopter, the Sally B team, the Blades and the Strikemaster Pair.

Kate Skinner, who travelled to the event from Southampton, said: “We came to see the Red Arrows, as the display they do is fantastic.

“As we live local we thought we just couldn’t miss it.”

Conner Etheridge, aged 14, said: “It was different than I thought meeting them, they were really cool.”

Meanwhile, Elaine Wilmington, from Bournemouth, said: “We came last year to see the Red Arrows, queued for two hours and missed them. So we came early today. We wanted to see them as they fly over our garden all the time.

“I saw them over the garden yesterday so made sure I was here today.”

Ten-year-old Annie Eva, from Bournemouth, said: “I like the Red Arrows because they let out different coloured smoke.”

This year is also special for the Reds as it is the centenary year of the Royal Air Force.

Red 10 explained: “The aims of the RAF 100 Campaign are to commemorate our history, to celebrate our contribution to defence and to inspire the next generation.

“If there are any young people out there watching the display, our aim is to inspire them to follow their dreams like we did when we were young.”