Korea’s Black Eagles steal the shows

Amy Lloyd, a regular spectator on the air show circuit, catches the Black Eagles in Gloucester.

Black Eagles at the Royal International Air Tattoo

The Black Eagles Display team are The Republic of Korea’s Air Force Aerobatic Team, and run eight supersonic T-50 Golden Eagle jets. This season was their first in the UK and so far they have attended three major air shows.

I attended their second display at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucester. Excitement levels were high, as no one in the air show circuit has seen these planes display or even practice so we had no idea what to expect from their show. They did not disappoint. They displayed some very tricky moves and used their ‘dirty’ smoke to really set off their black and yellow jets to the max, especially against a cloudy sky:

Black Eagles at the Royal International Air Tattoo

All about impact and showmanship, their signature move, number 14, was using two jets and re creating the national flag of Korea, for which they got a round of applause from the audience. They started the show by flying right over the crowd in formation, to the music of ‘Queen’ and ‘AC/DC’. The sound of jets roaring overhead and the sight of these wonderful machines so low and close to the audience was very exciting. Unlike other display teams they have some very different moves and it was refreshing to see something a little different. Their 30 aerobatic manoeuvres gave me goosebumps. Their most dangerous move being the ‘Max Turn and Loop’ as it hits forces up to 8G which is the structural limit of the aircraft itself!

This was their 2012 Display sequence (taken from Wikipedia for the technical names)-

  1. Loop (Big Arrow to Penta) then Reverse (Arrow) : 8 Ship formation change loop
  2. Loop (Tango to Penta) then Turn (Diamonde to Star to Eagle): 8 Ship formation change turn
  3. Roll (Wedge) : 8 Ship roll
  4. Bon Ton Roulle then Roll Off (Penta to Canard) & join vertical reverse: 8 Ship simultaneous roll
  5. Rainfall: 8 Ship clover-leaf then split
  6. Scissor Pass: 4 Ship
  7. Box Cross: 4 ship
  8. Triple Turn: 2 Ship
  9. Goose: 6 Ship
  10. Heart and Cupid Arrow: 3 Ship
  11. Orchid: 5 Ship
  12. 2 ships High a and Loop: 3 Ship
  13. Roll Back and Afterburner Loop: 5 Ship
  14. Taeguk (태극) : 2 Ship (the national flag of Korea)
  15. Gourd Bottle: 6 Ship
  16. Line Abreast Cross Break: 2 Ship
  17. Inverted Bottom Up Pass: 2 Ship
  18. Echelon Review: 4 Ship
  19. Double Helix: 4 Ship
  20. Snake Rolls: 4 Ship
  21. Dizzying Break: 4 Ship
  22. Twist Roll: 4 Ship
  23. Max Manoeuvre: 1 Ship
  24. Victory Break: 7 Ship
  25. Typhoon Landing: 8 Ship

The pilots themselves were very friendly and genuinely excited to be displaying in the UK. Once on static display they took time to talk to and answer questions from the public. Commentator LT CHOI visited every enclosure to give out posters and Brochures for free during one of the show days.

Air show organisers run a competition every year, with various categories. The Black Eagles walked away with King Hussein Memorial Sword award for ‘Best Overall Flying Demonstration’ and the ‘As the Crow Flies Trophy’, voted for by the Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo. The team had already won a trophy for their display at the Waddington Airshow the week before, giving them a haul of three awards to take back to their base at Wonju, South Korea.

Black Eagles at the Royal International Air Tattoo

The Team has said they enjoyed their visit and are very keen to return to the circuit next year, so hopefully we will see this fantastic team again.

The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) was held on 7-8 July 2012, at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

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