FIRST-TIME participants the South Korean Black Eagles emerged triumphant from the awards night yesterday (Sunday) at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, scooping two prizes.
The winners were announced at the traditional end to the event, the Sunday Night Hangar Party, when Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire, Chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, opened proceedings by thanking everyone for their contributions to RIAT 2012.
Sir John thanked volunteers and participants for all their efforts, adding: “The flying displays were magnificent, and hugely appreciated by the visiting chiefs and the ticket-buying public”.
Air Cdre Nigel Wharmby of the Air Tattoo's Flying Control Committee made special mention of the RAF's 15 Sqn based at Lossiemouth in Scotland. He said: “They lost three of their aircrew last week in a tragic mid-air collision, and we're indebted to the station, the squadron and the role demo team for continuing, to come down here and perform the demo as a tribute to their colleagues.” He also paid tribute to the members of RAF Valley and Yeovilton for the E2R flypast that was “meticulously planned and executed”.
This year, the top award, the King Hussein Memorial Sword - presented in memory of the late HM King Hussein of Jordan, Patron of the International Air Tattoo (1983-1989) for the Best Overall Flying Demonstration - went to the Republic of Korea Air Force, 239th Aerobatic Squadron, “Black Eagles” Aerobatic Team. The sword was presented by HRH Lt Gen Prince Faisal of Jordan.
The team also collected the As the Crow Flies Trophy, voted for by the Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo, and presented by David Higham, Director of Finance and Support Services for the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises.
Commenting on their two awards, Lt Col Young Hwa Kim, commander of the Black Eagles, said: “I am very honoured that we won the best award in the aviation industry. I can't express in words what we feel. I am very delighted with the team and pleased with our success.”
The team had already won a trophy for their display at the Waddington Airshow the week before, giving them a haul of three awards to take back to their base at Wonju, South Korea.
The Paul Bowen Trophy - presented in memory of Royal International Air Tattoo co-founder Paul Bowen for the Best Solo Jet Demonstration – went to Sqn Ldr Scott Loughran of 6 Squadron RAF Leuchars, flying the Eurofighter Typhoon. The trophy was presented by Tim Prince, Director of the Air Tattoo and Chief Executive of the RAFCTE.
Sqn Ldr Loughran said: “I'm just delighted to have received this award. It's fantastic to achieve recognition for what the 6 Sqn team hoped would be an excellent display.”
The Volunteer Reserve Forces Poignard Trophy was won by 37 Signals Regiment of the British Army who sort out the vital telephone system around the airfield each year. The award was presented by Gp Capt Richard Mighall.
Maj Dave Fraley, who received the trophy on behalf of the unit, said: “It's wonderful to be recognised for the work the regiment does here at the Air Tattoo. We have had a fantastic time, despite the weather, and we are looking forward to returning next year, our 35th year.”
The Sir Douglas Bader Trophy – presented by Shell UK for the Best Individual Flying Display – went to Captains Michael Brocard & Cedric Ruet, from ETR 2/92 Aquitaine, French Air Force, flying the Rafale.
Alan Smith, Chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises, presented the trophy to Capt Brocard, who received the award for the second year in a row. He said: “I am very pleased to have been recognised again this year. The Air Tattoo is a great airshow, it has great air forces, a fantastic crowd: it has been great to display here again.”
Gp Capt Geoff Brindle, whose Air Tattoo roles have included Lightning Display Pilot and Flying Display Director, presented The Lockheed Martin Cannestra Trophy – awarded by Lockheed Martin for the Best Flying Demonstration by an overseas participant - to Capt Adrian Rojek and Capt Artur Kalko flying the Polish Air Force Mikoyan MiG-29.
Capt Kalko commented: “We are very surprised, we didn't expect any award. We were very happy for the invitation and the opportunity to present the Polish Air Force, and its national heroes and RAF pilots.”
The Steedman Display Sword - presented by The Royal International Air Tattoo in memory of the late Air Chief Marshal Sir Alasdair Steedman, Chairman of the International Air Tattoo (1981-1988), for the Best Flying Demonstration by a UK participant – was awarded to Flt Lt Justin Shaw and his team, flying the Chinook from 18 Sqn, RAF Odiham.
Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire presented the sword. Team spokesman Flt Lt Paul Farmer said: “It's amazing, a great honour and an absolute surprise. It's been a team effort over the weekend, and an incredible honour – I'm lost for words.”
And finally, the Best Livery award went to the crew of the Polish Navy's Mil Mi-14 “Haze”' helicopter of 29 Eskadra based at Darlowo. They received the award from Gardiner Porter, Director, Military Aviation for Jeppesen.
Lt Yarek Lipinski, collecting the award on behalf of his crew, said: “This is the first time for the aircraft to visit the Air Tattoo, and we did not expect so much interest and appreciation.” The Orca decoration of the aircraft took three days to prepare and five days to paint. It was made ready just a week before its Air Tattoo appearance.