A flock of British fighter jets soared over Boston for the first time Monday morning, releasing their signature stream of red, white, and blue contrails.
The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team’s Red Arrows flew for 10 minutes over the Boston Harbor and waterfront around 11:20 a.m., said Paolo DiFabio, a spokesman for the British Consulate-General Boston. The flyover was scheduled for 11 a.m., but the show was pushed back 20 minutes after air traffic control delays, the Red Arrows said in a tweet.
In the Seaport District, hundreds of people, including families and workers taking a break from their desks, sat along the water’s edge and lolled in the grass, eagerly awaiting the planes.
Suzanne Brooks, 53, of Wilmington, joked that the Red Arrows had come specifically for her husband Scott’s 54th birthday. “They knew we were coming,” she said with a laugh. The manager of the Envoy Hotel, where they were staying to celebrate, told them about the show.
Brooks, whose father was once stationed at the Hanscom Air Force Base, said she loved airshows and watched the Thunderbirds perform every summer in her childhood.
“Your heart pounds out of your chest when they fly over,” she said. “It’ll be nice to compare.”
Sanjay Patel, 45, of Waltham sat in metal chair flanked by his two sons on either side, all three sporting sunglasses.
The Red Arrows show made up for not being able to attend the Chicago Air and Water Show this year.
“This at least gives us 10 minutes of what is hours of fun in Chicago,” Patel said. “When you see the precision, the speed, what they start doing, it’s insane.”
The city skyline, Patel said, offered a unique backdrop for the acrobatic show.
“You usually see this in a field — not in the city,” Patel said.
“We were joking that they’re going to take us over, recapture the colony,” Patel said of the British fighter jets.
Ashley Naeve, 32, said she had never seen an airshow before, and had lengthened her walk with her dog Boss to make it to the harbor. “I’ve always wanted to see an airshow. It’s neat that it’s in the neighborhood.”
Although Boss usually tilts his head up at the sound of planes overhead, Naeve said the 10-year-old greyhound was too tired to look up now. On this sweltering day, Boss was busy lapping water from his bowl as the red jets flew in formation across the harbor.
“That was faster than I expected,” Naeve said. Moments later, the planes returned for another pass.
DiFabio said the jets flew north to south past the Tobin Bridge, over the USS Constitution, then past the waterfront and out toward the Harbor Islands, before doubling back along the same route and landing at Logan.
Charles L. Simon, who works for the Cosentini Associates engineering firm, gazed out into the harbor with a Diet Coke in one hand and a white helmet at his feet. He had been on his way to get a coffee near a Seaport building he was inspecting, when someone told him the Red Arrows were coming.
“This is kind of exciting to break up the day,” Simon said. “It’s pretty impressive.”
Although he said he could not see the faroff jets very well, he was able to snap a photo before his phone died.
Sarah Snelling and Sandi Campbell, two Brits on vacation in Boston, said they were excited to see the Red Arrows here.
“It felt patriotic,” Snelling said. “I felt very proud.”
Campbell, who grew up in Scotland, said she used to watch them from her childhood home. Now living in London, the two said they watch the Red Arrows nearly every year, when the jets participate in a “salute to the Queen” on her birthday.
“It was really weird to see it in Boston, 3,000 miles away,” Campbell said.
The Red Arrows’ tour aims to showcase British innovation and engineering, according to the Royal Air Force.
The Red Arrows are on an 11-week North American tour that started in Halifax, Nova Scotia July 8 and will end in Rapid City, South Dakota Oct. 8, the statement said.
The tour marks the first time in over a decade that the Red Arrows have visited the United States, according to Andrew Morton, spokesman for the Royal Air Force Acrobatic team.
The British Consulate-General Boston is offering prizes for the best flyover photos shared on social media with the hashtag #RedArrowsTour.