August 1st (Ba Yi) Aerobatic Team

August 1st (Chinese: Ba Yi) are the main aerobatic team of China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force. They are named after the date of the founding of the PLAAF, 1st August 1927. As of 2020, the team fly six Chengdu J-10 fighters in their display, and are the only Chinese aerobatic team to have displayed abroad.

Active: 1962-present
Country: China People’s Republic of China
Home base: Yang Cun Air Base
Operator: Air Force
Size: 11 aircraft (6 in display)

Chengdu JJ-5 (1962-1977)
Chengdu J-7EB (1997-2001)
Chengdu J-7GB (2001-2009)
Chengdu J-10AY (2010-2022)
Chengdu J-10SY (2010-present)
Chengdu J-10CY (2013-present)


August 1st was formed in 1962 flying nine Shenyang J-5s, the Chinese license-built version of the MiG-17, later switching to six Chengdu J-7s (license-built MiG-21s) in 1997. The team finally upgraded to the Chengdu J-10 in 2009, making their debut with the type at Airshow China at the end of 2010. Initially after the upgrade, the team used white smokewinders on each wingtip to generate smoke. These were soon replaced with purple, orange and red coloured smokewinders. Since 2017, the team has used a conventional centreline exhaust smoke system, producing smoke of various colours.

Since upgrading to the J-10, August 1st have performed internationally several times. The international debut came at MAKS in Russia in 2013. In 2015, August 1st displayed in Thailand and at LIMA in Malaysia. Their biggest international shows to date were the Dubai Airshow in 2017 and 2023 and the Singapore Airshow 2020; they have also performed in Pakistan in 2017 and 2019 and in Saudi Arabia in 2024..

In 2022, August 1st upgraded from the J-10AY (one of the oldest versions of the J-10) to the J-10CY as their primary single-seat display aircraft. The J-10CY is an airshow-specialised version of the 4.5 generation J-10C, with a dorsal spine to house a smoke tank and a Russian AL-31FN engine (rather than the Chinese WS-10B engine fitted to other J-10Cs being built at that point in time). Reverting to the older Russian engine allows August 1st to operate a mixed fleet of J-1CYs alongside older J-10SY twin-seaters when needed, as there is not currently a twin-seat version J-10C.


Like most aerobatic teams, August 1st start their show with formation aerobatics featuring all six aircraft, performing one example each of a barrel roll, loop, flat pass, belly-up pass and corkscrew, mostly performed in a basic Delta formation. The second half sees the team split into a four-ship and two solos. The four-ship perform manoeuvres such as the Palm Split, Blooming Break and twinkle rolls, as well as flat formation passes in line astern and line abreast formations. The solos perform an opposition pass, slow high-alpha pass, an inverted corkscrew and numerous fast passes with climbing aileron rolls.

August 1st’s display routine is relatively simple and predictable compared to other big aerobatic teams, with low-complexity choreography and conservative power settings. For example, during the second half of the show, aircraft essentially fly a left-hand circuit pattern around the airfield, with virtually every manoeuvre starting from the left and ending on the right. The main four-ship formation and the soloists follow each other around this circuit with a conservative spacing between them, and each element performs a different formation or manoeuvre each time they pass the crowd. The aircraft mostly fly at a steady speed, with almost no use of afterburner during the entire performance.

Despite the simplistic choreography, no two displays by August 1st look quite alike. This is because the smoke colour combinations change from one display to the next. The primary smoke colours used by August 1st are red, white, blue and yellow, with between two and four colours used for each display. Each jet has a single smoke tank and can thus only produces one colour per show. For example, on one day, the team may display with three jets using white smoke and three using red smoke, and on the next they might display with two jets using yellow smoke, two using blue smoke and two using red smoke. Other colours, such as green, can also be used, allowing the team to reflect the national colours of other countries when they are flying abroad.


  • June 1997: Three aircraft crashed during a training flight in Tianjin, killing three pilots
  • 15th September 1998: An aircraft crashed near Shanghai
  • 14th July 2009: An aircraft crashed at Yang Cun Air Base while practicing for National Day
  • 12th November 2016: Two aircraft collided during a training flight in Hebei Provence. China’s first female J-10 pilot, Yu Xu, was killed in the accident.