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RSAF Black Knights
Black Knights 2008 - Delta FlyBy
Active 1973 - present
Country  Singapore
Republic of Singapore Air Force
Role Aerobatic Display
Size Six Pilots
Twenty-five Technicians
Garrison/HQ Tengah Air Base
Colors Red and white
Lt Colonel Leng Wai Mun
RSAF Black Knights patch 150px
Aircraft flown
Fighter Six F-16C Fighting Falcons

The Black Knights is the official aerobatics team of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) featuring six F-16C Fighting Falcons in formation flight. The Black Knights emblem is sported on the red vertical tail of each of the team's aircraft and the team's name is emblazoned on both sides of the aircraft which are painted in the national colours of Singapore - red and white (see Figure 10 in photo gallery).[1]

History[edit | edit source]

File:RSAF TAB shoulder patch.jpg

Tengah Air Base crest with the prominent Black Knight centerpiece.

The team was commissioned in 1973 initially as the Osprey Red, five years after the creation of the RSAF and eight years as an independent nation. In 1974, the team was renamed as The Black Knights.[1]

The Black Knights has its namesake of origin from the game of chess where the Knight is widely regarded as the most aggressive, flexible and manoeuvrable of all the chess pieces, having both the ability to breach barriers and move in nimble and strategically important directions, thus exemplifying flexibility and precision manoeuvrability as personified by the pilots of the team during their aerial manoeuvres.

The Black Knights is also the formation insignia of Tengah Air Base, home to the RSAF's fighter aircraft and the RSAF Black Knights.

In tandem with the technological advancements and development of the RSAF, the Black Knights progressed from flying a four-ship formation of the Hawker Hunters in the 1970s to a five-ship F-5E Tiger IIs team in the 1980s.

In the 1990s, the Black Knights performed in a six-aircraft formation consisting of the locally re-engined A-4SU Super Skyhawks, utilising it until year 2000 (refer to performances).

Training[edit | edit source]

Unlike the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds or the Red Arrows from the Royal Air Force, the Black Knights is not a full-time aerobatics team.[2]

The team was formed only after the pilots and ground crew went through a stringent selection process following recommendation from their peers and senior commanding officers. To be considered for selection, each fighter pilot must have clocked at least 1,000 flying hours.

Also, other than full dress rehearsal for National Day Parade or air shows and partly due to the limited airspace available for training in Singapore since its inception back in the 1970s, the Black Knights has frequently conducted their own training over the airspace within Singapore Armed Forces Southern Islands Live-firing zone, which encompasses the offshore islands of Pulau Sudong, Pulau Senang and Pulau Pawai (see Fig. 11 & 12 in photo gallery).

Performances[edit | edit source]

Closeup of a RSAF Black Knight F-16 on static display.


Low level head-on pass during NDP 2008.

Asian Aerospace 2000[edit | edit source]

Asian Aerospace 2000 was one of the first major air shows of the new millennium, this inspired plans for another six-aircraft RSAF Black Knights aerobatics team. As it was envisioned that the team would fly an all-F-16 display, four A-4SUs were added to bring the team to six when only two F-16s were available. This decision turn out to make history for the RSAF as it became the first air force in the world to combine these two aircraft types in one aerobatics team and was thus flown as such during the air show (see Fig. 1 & 2 in photo gallery).

National Day Parade 2000 (NDP2000)[edit | edit source]

On 9 August 2000, the RSAF Black Knights appeared during the air segment of the parade which featured a four-ship formation flight of A-4SU Super Skyhawks performing aerobatic stunts to thrill the crowds at the Padang in front of Singapore's City Hall building. This marks the last time the team uses A-4SU Super Skyhawks, the type was finally retired from front-line use in 2005.

Singapore Air Show 2008[edit | edit source]

After a hiatus of almost eight years, the newly reformed RSAF Black Knights took their F-16Cs to perform aerobatic flying displays at the inaugural Singapore Airshow from 19 February to 24 February 2008.[3]

Overseas performances[edit | edit source]

On 24 April 2008, at the invitation of Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk - Commander-in-Chief of Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), the Black Knights performed in an aerial display at the Don Muang Airport, Bangkok.[4] This performance by the RSAF Black Knights was to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of RSAF-RTAF bilateral exercises which had begun in 1983. (See Fig. 13 in photo gallery.[5])

National Day Parade 2008 (NDP2008)[edit | edit source]

As with the tradition of National Day Parades in Singapore held every year since 1966, the Republic of Singapore Air Force scheduled the Black Knights for another crowd thrilling appearance during National Day Parade, 2008.[6]

RSAF Open House 2008[edit | edit source]

The RSAF Open House is a bi-annual event which is usually held at Paya Lebar Air Base and in conjunction with the 40th Anniversary of Republic of Singapore Air Force in 2008,[7] it would be open to public for two days from 30 August to 31 August 2008.[8] Also, the RSAF Black Knights are scheduled for another aerobatic display to thrill the crowds.

Pilots profile[edit | edit source]

File:Pilots of RSAF Black Knights.jpg

Black Knights,
from top left: LTC Leng Wai Mun, MAJ Tay Kok Ann & CPT Augustine Wan;
from bottom left: MAJ Jeffrey Nah, CPT Lester John Fair & LTC Philip Chionh.

The new six ship formation for 2008 will consist of the following positions (all information correct as of 20 June 2008[9]):

  • Flight Leader/Team Leader:
    • LTC Leng Wai Mun (42 years-old), has served with the RSAF for 23 years, flown the F-5E as well as the F-16 and logging over 2,800 flying hours on both aircraft.
  • Right Wingman:
    • CPT Augustine Wan (31 years-old), has served with the RSAF for 10 years, flown the A-4SU as well as the F-16 and logging over 1,100 flying hours.
  • Left Wingman:
    • CPT Lester John Fair (29 years-old), has served with the RSAF for 10 years, flown the A-4SU as well as the F-16 and logging over 1,400 flying hours. He is also the youngest in the team at over 29 years of age.
  • Slotman:
    • MAJ Tay Kok Ann (35 years-old), has served with the RSAF for 15 years, flown the A-4SU as well as the F-16 and logging over 2,000 flying hours on both aircraft. Also, he was the "Left Wingman" of the Black Knights team during Asian Aerospace 2000.
  • Lead Solo:
    • LTC Philip Chionh (39 years-old), has served with the RSAF for 21 years, flown the A-4SU as well as the F-16 and logging over 2,100 flying hours on both aircraft. Also, he was the "Opposing Solo" of the Black Knights team during Asian Aerospace 2000.
  • Opposing Solo:
    • MAJ Jeffrey Nah (31 years-old), has served with the RSAF for 12 years, flown the A-4SU as well as the F-16 and logging over 1,900 flying hours.

Manoeuvres[edit | edit source]

The following is a list of aerial manoeuvres which would be showcased by the team:

  1. Delta FlyBy (see Fig.3 in photo gallery)
  2. Twisted Loop
  3. Swan Roll (see Fig.8 in photo gallery)
  4. Chevron Roll
  5. Palm Split (see Fig.6 in photo gallery)
  6. Needle Cross
  7. Cuban
  8. Line Abreast Loop - Diamond Twist Cut
  9. Opposing Rolls
  10. Vertical Twist
  11. Way of the Dragon
  12. Mirror Pass
  13. Twinkle Roll
  14. Slow Speed, Afterburner Climb (see Fig.5 in photo gallery)
  15. Flaming Heart (see Fig.7 in photo gallery)
  16. Curtains (see Fig.4, 5 & 12 in photo gallery)

Photo gallery[edit | edit source]

Aircraft operated & year appeared[edit | edit source]

  1. Hawker Hunters - 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1983[1]
  2. F-5E Tiger-IIs - 1981[1]
  3. A-4SU Super Skyhawks - 1990, 1994, 2000[1]
  4. F-16A Fighting Falcons - 2000[1]
  5. F-16C Fighting Falcons - 2008[1]

See also[edit | edit source]

The six-ship missing man formation flown in tribute of LTC Casey Tan.

Note[edit | edit source]

  • Incidentally, LTC Philip Chionh who is the Lead Solo of the team is married to the Singaporean actress - Zoe Tay.[10]
  • On 22 February 2008, the Black Knights flew a six-ship missing man formation in a flypast tribute to one of their fellow pilots - LTC Casey "Mongol" Tan Kum Cheng who died.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Black Knights - History". MINDEF. Last updated 24 April 2010. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/mindef_websites/atozlistings/air_force/assets/black_knights/history.html. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  2. "Aerial Artistry". Cyber Pioneer - MINDEF. 2008-02-29. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/publications/cyberpioneer/features/2008/feb08_cs.html. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  3. "RSAF Black Knights to Perform at Singapore Airshow 2008". MINDEF. 2007-09-11. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2008/apr/17apr08_nr.html. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  4. "RSAF Black Knights 'wow' crowds in Bangkok (story & video)". The Straits Times. 2008-05-12. http://www.straitstimes.com/Video%2BNews/Singapore/STIVodcast_4088.html?playid=4088&type=Singapore. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  5. "The RSAF's Black Knights to Perform in Bangkok in Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of Bilateral Exercises". MINDEF. 2008-04-17. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2008/apr/17apr08_nr.html. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  6. Lim, Jessica (2008-06-13). "Black Knights to blaze new trail at NDP". The Straits Times. http://www.straitstimes.com/National%2BDay%2BSpecial/Story/STIStory_247454.html. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  7. "40th Anniversary of RSAF". MINDEF. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/rsaf/40years/. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  8. "RSAF Open House 2008". MINDEF. 2008-08-25. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/events/2008/RSAF_Open_House.html. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  9. "RSAF Black Knights - team members data". MINDEF. 2008-01-10. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/mindef_websites/atozlistings/air_force/assets/black_knights/team.html. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  10. "Visitors brave heat, snaking queues to catch last day of Singapore Airshow 2008". Singapore Airshow. 2008-02-24. http://www.singaporeairshow.com.sg/pdf/article%2021.pdf. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 

External links[edit | edit source]

Video clips[edit | edit source]

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