UK: Black Cats Ready to Perform for Diamond Jubilee Air Show Season

Black Cats Ready to Perform for Diamond Jubilee Air Show Season

The Navy’s No.1 helicopter display team, the Black Cats, are ready to perform for the Diamond Jubilee air show season after the head of the Fleet Air Arm approved their display.

The two Lynx – instantly recognisable thanks to the distinctive cat emblems painted on their fuselage – will perform at more than a dozen shows around the UK between the end of this month and mid October.

The head of the Fleet Arm Arm watches the Black Cats put on their final practice display before he gives the seal of approval to their 2012 season.

Rear Admiral Tom Cunningham, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Aviation & Carriers), visited the Black Cats’ home at RNAS Yeovilton to watch the two Lynx helicopters pirouette, dance and perform other aerobatic moves in sunny but windy Somerset skies.

The duo, drawn from 702 Naval Air Squadron which trains Lynx air and ground crew for front-line duties with the Navy, have been a popular sight for the past decade or so at airshows around the UK.

Originally known as ‘The Lynx Pair’, they were renamed the Black Cats thanks to the fierce wildcat depicted on the squadron’s badge and also the naval slang of ‘black catting’ – implying one-upmanship, having done or owned something better than anyone else.

The team is formed entirely of volunteers with Lt David Fleming lead pilot this year and Lt Ian Brannighan at the controls of ‘Black 2’.

Between them they synchronise the helicopters’ movements to give the effect of what has been described as an ‘aerial ballet’, speeding up and slowing down, as conducting thrilling close passes and exciting dynamic helicopter formation flying.

They’re backed up by a team of engineers who roll up to shows around the country with their-now familiar trailer, selling merchandise and, more importantly, selling the story of the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm.

“I hope that this year’s display looks as good from the ground as it does from the aircraft. It is full of dynamic manoeuvres, close formation and dramatic fast-passes – it is a challenging display for us to fly, but it will definitely be one to be seen from the crowd at this year’s air shows,” said Lt Fleming.

With the admiral’s tick in the box secured, the Black Cats are validated to perform – something they’ll do for the first time for the public in 2012 over the weekend of May 26-27 at Southend Air Festival, an event which can attract up to three quarters of a million visitors if the weather gods are kind.

The full display season for the Black Cats is:

May 26-27 Southend Air Festival

June 8 Dawlish Air Show

June 18 Cosford Air Show

June 23 RNAS Yeovilton Air Day

June 30/July 1 RAF Waddington International Air Show

July 21-22 Sunderland International Air Show

August 1 Weymouth Bay Festival

August 25-26 Chris Evans’ C4RF35T

August 29–30 Dartmouth Royal Regatta

August 30-Sept 2 Bournemouth Air Festival

Sept 8-9 Southport Air Show

Sept 12–14 Guernsey and Jersey Air Shows

Oct 14 Duxford Autumn Air Show


Naval Today Staff , May 18, 2012; Image: Royal Navy