Black Eagles ready for takeoff at Osan air show
By ARMANDO R. LIMON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 19, 2012
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The tightly bunched black-and-yellow jet fighters and their supersonic roar over Osan Air Base’s flight line gave onlookers an early taste of what to expect at Air Power Day this weekend.
South Korea’s Black Eagles were practicing Thursday, using Korea Aerospace Industries’ T-50B “Golden Eagle,” a trainer jet capable of Mach 1.5 speeds.
The Republic of Korea Air Force Aerobatic Team, 239th Special Squadron, is stationed at Wonju Air Base and will be a top draw on Osan’s program Saturday and Sunday.
“The Black Eagles are the only flying team in South Korea that specializes in air mobility,” said 1st Lt. Cha Yong Rok, a spokesman for the squadron. “The air show is mostly based on the combat skills of the pilots.”
Maj. Jeon Wook Cheon, a Black Eagles team leader, said the nine pilots, with one remaining on the ground, fly 20-25 air shows per year, with each performance lasting about 35 minutes, including a ground ceremony.
They normally fly high-ceiling air shows during good weather within South Korea but are in the works of planning one international performance a year. Their first came in June at Britain’s Royal Air Force Waddington International Air Show.
“Black Eagles mainly promotes the air force to the people in the nation,” Jeon said. “It especially encourages the strong air power of the air force. It also wants it be friendly with all the people in the nation.”
He particularly enjoys entertaining children.
“I think it is very honorable to give children hopes and dreams,” Jeon said.
The team was first formed as the Blue Sabers in the 1960s, flying U.S.-made F-86 Saber jets.
They later switched to F-5A Freedom Fighters and became the Black Eagles in 1967, Cha said.
The aerobatic team of eight Republic of Korea Air Force Black Eagles leaves a trailing white smoke behind during a practice aerial demonstration over Osan Air Base, South Korea, on Oct. 18, 2012. The aerial demonstration team is expected to perform at this weekend's Osan Air Power Day 2012 event.
ARMANDO R. LIMON/STARS AND STRIPES