From The Black Knights of Singapore to the Black Eagles of Korea, another fast jet aerobatic team performing here. But although show-goers will inevitably compare the two, Black Eagles team manager Lt. Col. Park San Hyoun says that for a true comparison to be made, “We would both have to be flying the same aircraft.” Instead of competing, he says, “we’re here to enjoy and give pleasure to the crowd.”
The Koreans are flying the T-50B supersonic jet trainer made by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI). However, Lockheed Martin (LM) helped in the design, which bears quite some resemblance to the F-16. The T-50 lost out here to the Italian Aermacchi M346 when Singapore chose a new jet trainer, but KAI and LM are marketing it worldwide, including for the big U.S. Air Force T-X requirement.
Back to airshow aerobatics. Team leader Major Kim Yong Min is a former F-16 instructor pilot who joined the team in December 2012. His seven fellow pilots are all instructors, from the Republic of Korea Air Force’s F-4, F-5 F-15 or F-16 fleets. Kim said that the team trained for one month specifically for this show, “because the airspace is very tight, and the organizers asked us to cut three minutes from our normal, 23-minute show.”
The Black Eagles routine is very dynamic, with multiple splits and rejoins. The pilots make good use of the T-50’s high thrust-to-weight ratio. Kim said that spectators should particularly watch out for the ‘rainfall’ maneuver, and the moment when the solo aircraft describe in the sky with smoke, an outline of the Republic of Korea’s yin-and-yang flag.