In an historic moment, the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) aerobatic team the Black Eagles and the Royal Australian Air Force aerobatic team the Roulettes joined forces for a Friendship Flight in support of the 2023 Australian International Airshow at Avalon, Victoria.
CAPTION: Major Eun-Ho Yang from the Republic of Korea Air Force aerobatic team The Black Eagles sits in a Pilatus PC-21 from the Royal Australian Air Force aerobatic team The Roulettes while Flight Lieutenant Ben Hepworth shows him the cockpit after a Friendship flight as part of the Australian International Air Show 2023. Story by Flight Lieutenant Steffi Blavius and Flying Officer Shan Arachchi Galappatthy. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Kate Czerny.
The Roulettes are a team of six, flying the Pilatus PC-21 from the Central Flying School at RAAF Base East Sale and the Black Eagles are a team of eight flying Korean-built T-50B.
Roulette One pilot Squadron Leader Mark Keritz said he was in awe of the South Korean display team.
“I wouldn’t mind flying in a T-50B, especially being part of their display team” he said.
The two teams worked together for the first time to fly in formation, taking off from Avalon, then tracking along the Great Ocean Road and then over Melbourne CBD for a city flypast before returning to Avalon where the Black Eagles performed their signature move the “Taegeuk”, in which they create the Republic of Korea flag with display smoke.
Team leader and first pilot of the South Korea aerobatic team Major Eun-ho Yang said there wasn’t scenery like this in South Korea so he was incredibly impressed with what Australia had to offer.
“I saw very beautiful scenery in Australia, the beautiful ocean, cliff and hills” he said.
For the pilots of both teams the Friendship Flight was a chance to share their love of flying and to learn from the experience of working with another air force’s aerobatic team.
Squadron Leader Keritz said it was a great opportunity to see how the Black Eagles operate and to display to them how the Roulettes operate as well.
“For the Roulettes, it’s a great way to show a mutual trust and respect between the display teams operating so close to each other with very different aircraft,” he said.
The formation flight between two of the world’s most talented aerobatic teams was the culmination of months of planning which paid off as the teams flew in perfect formation showcasing their skills in a display of friendship between South Korea and Australia.
CAPTION: The Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes fly in formation for a friendship flight with the Republic of Korea Air Force Black Eagles at Avalon. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Ryan Howell.
“We have a different strategy and a different culture between South Korea and Australia” said Major Yang.
“But my friend Mark is very kind – he communicates everything very well, so I didn’t find it difficult to fly together,” he said.
It is clear that both pilots are looking forward to their next endeavour together.
CAPTION: Republic of Korea Air Force Black Eagles with the Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes at the Australian International Airshow, Avalon, Victoria. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Ryan Howell.