The Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles appearances at the RAF Waddington International Airshow and the Royal International Air Tattoo in July were the undoubted highlights of the 2012 season. Not only was a brand new display item for UK skies from a part of the world not normally represented at European Airshows. For your author, it was th team’s appearance at Waddington that remains their most memorable; not only did Waddington mark the debut public display by the team, but also saw them appear alongside two of Europe’s best display teams.
For a military display team, they arrived in the UK in slightly unorthodox style with their aircraft brought in via civilian airfreight before they were rigged at RAF Leeming in Yorkshire. The team fly the indigenous KAI T-50B Golden Eagle Advanced and Lead-In Fighter Trainer. For a training aircraft it is very large and powerful aircraft giving the team of eight aircraft an amazing presence in the skies over an airshow. It is in fact a development of the F-16 design, and Lockheed Martin have been involved through the development programme.
The teams visit to the UK was groundbreaking for the team; it was not only their first trip to Europe but it was the first time the team had appeared anywhere outside of the Republic of Korea. The tour was also important for the Korean Aerospace Industry, who have high hopes of selling their very advanced aircraft to customers around the world. The team provided a superb showcase for the aircraft and the RoKAF; they were always very enthusiastic and approachable throughout their tour.
The UK and European airshow circuit is one blessed with some of the best display teams in the world and for their début at Waddington they pitched themselves alongside two of the world’s very best displays – that of the Royal Air Force Red Arrows and the Italian Air Force Il Frecce Tricolori. A combination of perfect nimble jet trainers and superb formation flying skills has meant these two teams have often set the standards often putting new teams in the shade.
However the Black Eagles more than held their own at Waddington. Not only did the T-50B give the team an unrivalled presence but their formation flying and showmanship was sublime. The team seem to capture all the best elements of European and North American based national aerobatic teams to produce an exciting and original display. The power of the T-50B also gave the team to ability to change formation very quickly and perform some stunning figures combining slow and high speed flying. As well as the traditional formation and synchronized flying,one of the most memorable parts of the display was the solo flyers painting the national symbol of Korea in the blue skies over Waddington on the Saturday.
Not only was it amazing to see a display team from the far east in the UK, but their superb display more than makes the Black Eagles the highlight of the 2012 UK airshow season.