From 1963 the official aerobatic team of the Royal Air Force became the Firebirds which fly nine English Electric Lightning F.Mk 1A aircraft. The team was from No 56th Squadron at Wattisham, Suffolk as all planes were painted in the squadron's paint scheme in overall silver and red tail. The team's name came from the No 56th Squadron patch which includes a firebird.
On June 6th 1963 one of the aircraft crashed at Firebirds' home base, during the practice flight in preparation for Paris Air Show. The crash occurred during break for land maneuver, when Flt. Lt. Michael Cooke a left inner wingman, banked too quickly his plane towards to the left wingman, who broke from the formation moment before. Then he try to recover his Lightning, but both planes collided. Flt. Lt. Michael Cooke plane lose the wingtip and he ejected with serious injures. The other pilot landed its plane safely
In 1964 the Firebirds aerobatic display team was disbanded becoming the last RAF team which uses fighters.