by Baron Halpenny, LincsMag Editor.
Date: 03 July 2012
For the first time ever the Republic of Korea Air Force, represented by their Black Eagles Display Team, were seen in the skies above the 2012 RAF Waddington International Air Show, in what was the teamís very first UK air show appearance as they demonstrated 24 breath-taking manoeuvres during a 30 minute display during each of the Air Show days.
The Black Eagles are the Aerobatic Team of the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), which demonstrates ROKAF's air power through highly sophisticated flying manoeuvres.
The team's core values are Challenge, Sacrifice, Expertise, and Teamwork, which are all in close line with that of ROKAF's.
The Black Eagles are composed of nine elite pilots with the T-50B aircraft and on average, the Black Eagles participate in 35 regional and national events annually. Like most national demonstration teams, the Black Eagles also aim to attract Korean youngsters to apply for Republic of Korea Air Force to do their military service and furthermore to make them consider becoming an Air Force pilot as a career.
The first ever aerobatic flight in the Republic of Korea Air Force history was in 1953 with the F-51 Mustang. Then in 1962 the team, known as "Blue Sabre" and flying the F-86 Sabre, did special flying demonstrations to celebrate the Korean Armed Forces Day. But it was in 1967 that the Black Eagles were established, then flying the F-5A Freedom Fighter. 2008 saw the formation of the T-50 Aerobatic Squadron Task Force Team with 2009 seeing the promotion to 239th Special Aerobatic squadron.
Under the squadron commander, Lt Col Young Hwa Kim, the formation of the Black Eagles is comprised of eight positions.
Number 1 Leader, Major Wook Cheon Jean flies in front and leads the entire formation.
Number 2, Major Kwang Hwi Cho, Left Wing, Number 3, Major Yun Sik Park, Right Wing and Number 4, Major Young Jun Seo, Slot pilots demonstrate the formation manoeuvres with Number 1 Leader.
Number 5, Major Dae Eun Kim, Synchro and Number 6, Major Dae Hyeob Ko, Synchro also forms another formation by themselves in which they perform disciplined manoeuvres.
Finally, Number 7, Major Soon Hong Hong, Solo and Number 8, Major Nam Sun Noh, Solo provide additional dynamic and thrilling manoeuvres.
As the team requires a high level of expertise and teamwork, the pilots can only gain the privileged position of being a Black Eagles pilot through a very rigorous selection processes. First, the team members must have graduated in the top third of their class in both basic and advanced flight training, and have been a flight leader who can lead more than four fighter jets in one formation. It is especially even more demanding for the number 1 Leader position as he must be in the top 5% in the training curriculum.
To make it yet more rigorous, the selection process is further advanced to a series of interviews and discussions, and with all these, each potential candidate must receive unanimous approval from all current team members in order to become an official Black Eagles member.
The Black Eagles also have thirty maintenance crewmembers to maintain the T-50Bs, and six assistant crewmembers to provide narration, produce videos, and set up sound equipment. All team members work together to consistently strive to create the air show events as best as possible.
The T-50 is an advanced jet trainer first flew in 2002 and is capable of Supersonic speeds. The type has also been modified into a light attack aircraft, has been exported to Indonesia and is being marketed across the globe for various next generation trainer programmes.
The Black Eagles, resplendent in their black, gold and white colours scheme are the international ambassadors for the Republic of Korea; they fly with 8 aircraft, in both formation and synchro manoeuvres.
LENGTH: 13.4 m
WIDTH: 9.45 m
HEIGHT: 4.91 m
ORIGIN: REPUBLIC OF KOREA
WEIGHT: 13,454 kg
MAXIMUM SPEED: MACH 1.5
Korea Aerospace Industries, or KAI, is the prime contractor for the T-50 with Lockheed Martin the principal subcontractor. KAI is under contract to deliver seventy-two T-50s to the ROKAF for training, which include fifty advanced jet trainers and twenty-two TA-50 lead-in fighter aircraft. The aircraft began flying in 2005.
The T-50's exceptional thrust and handling characteristics, which are consistent at both high speed and low speed, are strong contributors to the special manoeuvres the Black Eagles perform. Since aircraft performance defines air show manoeuvres, the high-performance of T-50 fundamentally improved the team's repertoire.
To see more pictures of the ROKAF Black Eagles Aerobatic Team at the RAF Waddington International Air Show 2012, visit the Album on our Facebook page HERE!