Stunning new manoeuvres in Black Eagles’ new airshow routine

WONJU | The Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles have put the coronavirus pandemic to good use, developing a series of stunning new manoeuvres not performed by any other aerobatic team.

Photo: Adam Landau

It’s not often that a major aerobatic team brings something genuinely new and unique to the table, but the team have used their coronavirus-enforced extended training period to do just that, revamping their display routine and developing several stunning new moves. The new display was perfomed for the public for the first time in late October, as coronavirus restrictions in the country are eased.

It is the first major update to the Black Eagles’ display routine in almost a decade.

New manoeuvres include the Vortex, which replaces the Box Break, and sees four aircraft approaching the crowd in card formation before dramatically rolling across each others’ paths to swap sides of the formation. The jets then quickly transition to trail formation and pull away from the spectators.

Later in the show, the Gourd Bottle has been replaced with the Clover Leaf Cross. The old move saw six aircraft perform a loop far in front of the crowd before splitting into two elements, which both then ran in opposite directions down the display line. The aircraft now break while pulling up into the loop and complete the manoeuvre in opposing directions, crossing dramatically as they exit the loops. Lasting around 30 seconds, the Clover Leaf Cross takes only half the time of the Gourd Bottle, and can take placeĀ  much closer to the crowd.

Also gone is the Cross Break, a two-ship opposition break while flying away from the crowd. This has instead been incorporated into a new manoeuvre called Rock and Roll, in which one jet performs slow aileron rolls down the display line and a second barrel rolls around it. After passing the crowd, the old Cross-Break ends the manoeuvre.

Other tweaks include more regular use of coloured smoke during the display, more photogenic opposing passes and an enhanced solo routine at the end of the performance. While previously the solo routine had consisted solely of a loop and a minimum radius turn, it now consists of a much more sophisticated half-vertical eight and spiral dive back towards the crowd. As with the Gourd Bottle, one of the team’s opening loops has also been repositioned to allow it to be flown closer to the spectators.

Finally, the team’s traditional landing break has been improved significantly. After performing a downwards bomb burst directly above the airfield, the eight jets now enter incredible turning descents as they fan outwards – a concept never seen from a major jet team before. The new manoeuvre (see below) is known as the Tornado Landing, as it will set up all eight jets into a safely-spaced landing pattern.

All of the Black Eagles’ crowd-favourite manoeuvres remain in the show, such as the Dizzying Break, Rainfall, Two Ship High-Alpha and Loop, and the Taeguek, which sees a pair of jets drawing the national symbol of Korea in the sky with their smoke trails.

The Black Eagles are recognised as one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams, and fly the locally-produced T-50 Golden Eagle. They have performed internationally in the UK, Malaysia and Singapore.