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The latest news, information, rumours and other 'current affairs' from the world of aerobatic teams and this S.I.G.

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Latest news appears at the top of the page and older news items will be transferred to the "News Archives" section periodically.)

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Breitling/Apache Jet Team are now five !

This France-based civilian team, equipped with L-39 Albatros jet trainers (formerly the "Khalifa Jet Team") have now announced the name of the pilot who will expand the team to a 5-ship.

His name is Patrick Marchand, a former instructor at Tours Air Base (France) and former member of the Jaguar display duo Raffin Mike, where he spent two years as the wingman and then two years as Team Leader.

(March 2004. Thanks to Patrouilles du Monde website.)


Patrouille de France pilots, 2004

The line-up of pilots for the 2004 Patrouille de France, is as follows :-

Arnaud Amberg (Leader)
Christophe Pera
Thierry Loine
Emmanuel Paillou
Christophe Lespade
Guillaume Paul
Stéphane Praud
Jean Louis Roland
Michel Talichet (spare pilot)

An interesting fact is that new Leader Arnaud Amberg's father was also on the team back in 1977, and was the team Leader in 1978, their 25th anniversary year.

(March 2004. Thanks to Patrouilles du Monde website.)


Esquadrilha da Fumaca accident

The Brazilian Air Force's aerobatic team Esquadrilha da Fumaca, experienced an "incident" a few days ago - here's the official report :-


The Command of the Aeronautics informs the occurrence of aeronautical accident today, February 13, 2004, about the 09:50h (schedule of Brasília).

Four pilots of the Brazilian air force ejected during a EDA´s flight training - known as Smoke Squadron - over an uninhabited area 10 km away from the city of Santa Rita do Passa Quatro, interior of the state of São Paulo.

Involved them, Major Luiz Francisco Tolosa, Captain Márcio Guimarães de Oliveira, Captain José Márcio de Almeida and Lieutenant Fabrício Calomeno Machado, they were rescued quickly and they pass well.

Two aircrafts T-27 TUCANO involved in the accident they collided with the soil with just material damage.

The Command of the Aeronautics already began the investigations the factors that contributed to the accident.

Brasília-DF, February 13, 2004."

(February 2004. Thanks to SIG member Marcus Sampaio, Brazil.)


Midnight Hawks to perform in the UK at RIAT 2004

At last, after several years of preparation and "behind the scenes persuasion", Finland's Midnight Hawks will be appearing at RIAT 2004, Fairford, England !!

Here is the official RIAT Press Release, issued on 8th February 2004 :-

Finland's finest display team, The Midnight Hawks, will make their UK debut at The Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire on July 17-18.

The team, comprising four Hawk fighter trainers, will join the legendary Red Arrows and other Hawk operators from around the world for a special celebration to mark the 30th anniversary of the BAe Systems' Hawk.

Renowned around the world for their tight and beautiful formations, members of The Midnight Hawks display team are all flight instructors from the Finnish Air Force Academy in Kauhava. For many years, pilots at the academy performed formation flying as part of the annual Midnight Summer Airshow, held for their families and relatives as well as villagers in Kauhava. From small beginnings, the airshow has grown to attract many foreign aircraft and in excess of 20,000 spectators.

Because of the midnight sun, the airshow traditionally starts at around 7pm and lasts until midnight, when the last display is flown. The Midnight Hawks and its predecessors have always flown close to midnight - hence their name.

The Midnight Hawks' appearance at The Royal International Air Tattoo in July is only their second international appearance, the first was at Air Power 2000 in Zeltweg, Austria. The 2004 team are: Captain Timo Rauhala, team leader; Senior Lieutenant Pasi Kolanen, left wing; Senior Lieutenant Mika Koskinen, right wing and Senior Lieutenant Antti Mononen.

RIAT Director Paul Bowen said the Tattoo was honoured to be hosting the first ever appearance in the UK of The Midnight Hawks. "In recent years we have been encouraging the Finnish authorities to have the team participate at RIAT but in the meantime we have enjoyed other Finnish air force aircraft taking part in the Tattoo.

"We are delighted that The Midnight Hawks will join the Red Arrows and a number of other Hawk teams to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this hugely versatile jet."

(February 2004. Thanks to SIG member Perttu Karivalo, Finland.)


Patrouille Suisse 40th anniversary markings

The Swiss Air Force team Patrouille Suisse, are celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2004. To mark the occasion, they have applied a special 40th anniversary logo to their F-5E aircraft, just behind the cockpit.

Patrouille Suisse 40th anniversary markings
Click on the thumbnail for a larger photo.
(Images from the website of the Patrouille Suisse Fanclub)

(February 2004. Thanks to SIG member Phil Adams, Germany.)


2004 Midnight Hawks news

The Finnish Air Force Academy's Midnight Hawks team have finalised their line-up for 2004. This year, they have a new Leader, Captain Timo Rauhala, who previously flew as number three in the team from 2001-2003. The new number three is Senior Lieutenant Mika Koskinen.

The complete 2004 team is as follows :

#1 (Leader) - Captain Timo Rauhala
#2 (Left wing) - Senior Lieutenant Pasi Kolanen
#3 (Right wing) - Senior Lieutenant Mika Koskinen
#4 (Slot) - Senior Lieutenant Antti Mononen
#7 (Supervisor/safety officer, spare aircraft) - Senior Lieutenant Seppo Tuovinen
#10 (Technical chief) - Lieutenant Juha Paukku

Midnight Hawks pilots 2004
The 2004 Pilots, left to right : #1 - Captain Timo Rauhala; #2 - Senior Lieutenant Pasi Kolanen; #3 - Senior Lieutenant Mika Koskinen; #4 - Senior Lieutenant Antti Mononen.
Click on the thumbnail for a larger photo.

(January 2004. Thanks to SIG member Perttu Karivalo, Finland.)


Italian civilian team news

The Yakitalia team ( look set to gain a "famous" new pilot for their 2004 display season : Maurizio De Rinaldis, the former Frecce Tricolori Commander will join the team during his holiday season or at weekends (work permitting).

Having now lost their sponsorship, the former Breitling Eagles appear to have struck a new sponsorhip deal for the 2004 - they will repaint their Su-26 and Su-29 aircraft in the colours of Red Bull. The team members remain the same as they were flying for Breitling.

(January 2004. Thanks to SIG member Gianfranco da Forno, Italy.)


Frecce Tricolori 2004 Team Line-up

The new Commander of the Frecce Tricolori, Maj. Paolo Tarantino, has now announced the members of the 2004 team, as follows :

Leader ("Pony 1") : Capt Massimo TAMMARO
1st left wingman ("Pony 2") : Capt Marco LANT
1st right wingman ("Pony 3") : Capt Urbano FLOREANI
2nd left wingman ("Pony 4") : Maj. Andrea ROSSI
2nd right wingman ("Pony 5") : Capt.Andrea BRAGA
1st slot ("Pony 6") : Capt Rudy BARASSI
3rd left wingman ("Pony 7") : Capt Simone CAVELLI
3rd right wingman ("Pony 8") : Lt.Simone PAGLIANI
2nd slot ("Pony 9") : Capt Davide CAPPOMI
Solo ("Pony 10") : Maj. Mario FERRANTE

(December 2003. Thanks to SIG member Gianfranco da Forno, Italy.)


Thunderbirds Asian Tour in 2004

The USAF Thunderbirds have now announced their 2004 display schedule and it includes an Asian/Pacific Tour. The team will perform a show in Guam, 2 shows in South Korea and four shows in Japan, between 11th September and 3rd October, 2004.

To see the Thunderbirds full 2004 schedule, go to :

(December 2003. Thanks to SIG member Masato Ota, Japan.)


New Commander and Leader for the Frecce Tricolori

Today, 20th November 2003, the Frecce Tricolori will have a new Commander, Maj. Paolo Tarantino. Major Tarantino was formerly the Leader of the team ("Pony 1") and steps up to replace Col. Maurizio de Rinaldis, the outgoing "Pony 0".

The new Leader of the team is Capt. Massimo Tammaro, the current 3rd left wingman.

(November 2003. Thanks to SIG member Gianfranco da Forno, Italy.)


Thunderbirds to finish the season as a five-ship team

Following the loss of their number 6 F-16C in a crash during a show at Mountain Home AFB (see below), The USAF Thunderbirds are now back flying demonstrations again, but will finish the 2003 season as a five-ship team.

The number six pilot, Captain Chris Stricklin, is on crew rest folowing his ejection from the stricken aircraft.

The Thunderbirds first airshow since the accident was at Ft. Smith Air National Guard Base, Arizona, on October 11th.

(November 2003. Thanks to SIG member Earl Watkins, USA.)


Blue Angels are also a five-ship team !

It seems that it's not a good year for number 6's, as the Blue Angels number 6 pilot, Maj. Len Anderson USMC, has fallen ill and so the Blue Angels will also be finishing their 2003 display season as a five ship team !

(November 2003. Thanks to SIG member Earl Watkins, USA.)


Snowbirds jets "a safety risk"....?

The following report was recently published by the Ottawa Citizen :

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds, the world-famous aerial demonstration team, faces 'significant' technical, safety and financial risks if their 41-year-old CT-114 Tutor jets aren't replaced soon, says an internal review by the Department of National Defence.

The government must move immediately to buy new jets for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds or the world-famous aerial demonstration team faces the difficult and dangerous prospect of flying geriatric aircraft for another 15 years, according to an internal review by the Department of National Defence.

The study concludes the 41-year-old CT-114 Tutor jets now flown by the Snowbirds should be replaced by the Hawk jet, made by British Aerospace (BAE), and recommends the federal government make a decision by the end of the year.

"Replacing the Tutor is a question of 'when,' not 'if'," says the study, an executive summary of which was obtained by the National Post. "With each passing year, the technical, safety and financial risk associated with extending the Tutor into its fifth decade and beyond will escalate. These risks are significant."

The study warns replacing the Snowbirds' mounts will cost at least $330 million, but argues the money will be well spent.

"These aircraft serve as an important symbol in representing the Canadian Forces and Canada both nationally and internationally," it says, adding: "There is a firm and continuing DND and government commitment to support a CF Snowbirds air demonstration capability."

The study argues the decision to replace the Tutors must be made quickly, because of the time needed to order, build and supply the new aircraft.

"To procure, build, deliver, train and convert the Snowbirds air demonstration program to (the BAE) Hawk will take about five years after a go-ahead decision is made," the review says. "A decision before the end of 2003 will ensure delivery of Hawk aircraft in 2008, for the 2009 (airshow) season."

However, Col. Dave Burt, the air force's director of air requirements, said the air force does not feel the same sense of urgency to find a replacement for the aging Tutors.

"The need to replace the Tutor is not too clear in the short term," he said. "The Tutor gives (the Snowbirds) the ability to fly in very close formation ... and at airspeeds that allow them to fly in those formations for an entire show -- the kind of aerial ballet that have made the Snowbirds so popular."

Col. Burt said the document was only a draft report and is just one of dozens of studies that will be considered in deciding which new aircraft to buy and when they should be purchased.

"We've been working on this for a couple of years," he said. "This is just one of the elements we take into account."

The Tutors, once the main jet training aircraft for the military, are now flown only by the Snowbirds. Pilot trainees are now taught on the BAE Hawk, designated the CT-155 by the Canadian Air Force.

The Tutors will reach their maximum lifespan in 2006, but the military is working to extend that to 2010 with a $32-million upgrade. It could stretch the Tutor's service life even further, the study says, but notes: "this would extend the aircraft to almost 60 years of operation."

Col. Burt said the military realizes the importance of the team as "a Canadian icon," and acknowledges the Snowbirds will have to be equipped with new aircraft eventually.

The biggest hurdle is the cost, he said. The defence budget has been stretched to the breaking point by upgrades to the fleet of CF-18 fighter jets and CP-140 Aurora patrol planes, as well as deployments to the Persian Gulf by the navy, and 1,900 ground troops to Afghanistan.

Col. Burt said the Air Force must give priority to replacing or upgrading aircraft used for military operations over a public-relations vehicle such as the Snowbirds. "When it comes to a balance between combat and non-combat capabilities, I think that most people would agree we should come down on the combat side first," he said.

© Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen.

(November 2003. Thanks to Will Chabun, Canada and SIG member John Murray.)


Biele Albatrosy stood down until 2006....

The Slovak Biele Albatrosy team have been effectively put "on hold" until at least 2006.

A letter from Tomas Sivicek, of The Government Office of the Slovak Republic, states that the Slovak Ministry of Defence is evaluating all the needs for defence of the country and also their integration into NATO and the inevitable reforms of their armed forces. With the limited finances available, funds will be allocated according to priorities.

It is anticipated that this military reform will be finished around 2006, after which they intend to create a new Biele Albatrosy team, on the same type of aircraft (L-39's), in order to continue the successful tradition of this aerobatic team.

(November 2003. Thanks to Patrouilles du Monde website.)


Thunderbirds accident at airshow

The USAF Thunderbirds lost one of their F-16C's in a crash during an airshow on Sunday 14th September 2003.

The Thunderbirds were performing at Mountain Home Air Force Base near Boise, Idaho, who were holding their first airshow at this base for three years. The aircraft involved was Thunderbird #6, the Opposing Solo, piloted by 31 year old Captain Chris Stricklin, in his first season with the team. The incident occurred during Thunderbird 6's take-off manouevre, where the aircraft climbs almost vertically immediately after lift-off, performs a half-roll and a Split-S, to fly back along the flight line in the opposite direction. Broadcast video footage indicates that the take-off, climb and half roll seemed normal, but as it descended in the half-loop, eye witnesses said that aircraft appeared to have engine problems or engine failure. The F-16 did actually pull up from the loop and was in a horizontal attitude, but still descending rapidly when Captain Stricklin ejected, approximately 100 feet from the ground. The aircraft impacted the ground on a grass area adjacent to the runway, in a wings level, slightly nose-up attitude, where it immediately disintegrated and exploded, scattering burning debris for several hundred yards along it's line of trajectory.

Captain Stricklin parachuted safely to the ground and after a couple of minutes, was on his feet and waving to the crowd. Nobody on the ground was injured.

(September 2003. Thanks to SIG members Gary Weston and John Cooper, USA.)


Russian Knights show their "flare"

One of our SIG members was fortunate enough to attend the recent MAKS 2003 show in Moscow, which was also attended by the Frecce Tricolori and Patrouille de France, as well as the "local" Team Rus, Russian Knights and the Swifts.

CLICK HERE to see a particularly impressive photo of the Russian Knights seemingly using up an entire year's supply of flares !

(September 2003. Thanks to SIG member Perttu Karivalo, Finland.)


Russian Knights get Su-35's

It seems that on June 3rd 2003, the Russian Knights took delivery of their first Su-35 (Su-27M) aircraft, at Andrianople AB. At this time, the aircraft was without the special Russian Knights colour scheme. Well now, they have taken delivery of at least 5 aircraft and we have some exclusive photos of them now in full Russian Knights display colours !

Click on the thumbnails to see much larger photos :-

** Photos must not be reproduced without express permission.

(August 2003. Thanks to SIG member Eugene Pooshkarev, Russia.)


New Asas de Portugal book

Front coverJust published in May 2003, is a new book dedicated to the Asas de Portugal team.

Written by J. Munkelt Gonçalves, the book is a 168 page softback and begins by telling the history of aerobatic flight in Portugal. It goes on to cover all the other and earlier Portuguese Air Force display teams, both rotary and fixed-wing. But the majority of the book then deals with the Asas de Portugal on an in-depth, year-by-year basis, even including the reborn (but short-lived) Alpha Jet team, in 1997. There are many photographs in colour and black & white, and all the text is in both Portuguese and English. There is certainly a lot of previously unknown information contained in this book and it is well recommended to any fan of aerobatic teams !

The book is available directly from the author, priced at GBP £20.00, including shipping to anywhere in the world. For full ordering details, send an email to

Please mention the Aerobatic Display Teams SIG in your email.

(July 2003.)


Marche Verte to add another aircraft

The Moroccan Marche Verte (Green March) team are intending to add another pilot and aircraft to their team next season, making them up to an 8-ship formation. This team are most famous for taking off and performing the first part of their display routine with their CAP 231 & 232 aircraft "tied together" by their wingtips..... and now it looks like from 2004 onwards, they will have another one to "tie" in to their formation !

(July 2003. Thanks to Patrouilles du Monde website.)


New all-female team being formed

In France, work has started to form a new civilian 4-ship team, all piloted by women. This is the brainchild of Didier Bougarel, a former member of Apache Aviation (the Company behind Patrouille Ecco/Adecco and now the Khalifa/Breitling Jet Team) - he has now formed the Winglets Company to operate this new all-female team. The four pilots are expected to be selected in August 2003 and they will fly Yak 54 aircraft, based at Montelimar. They are also seeking a sponsor before the end of the year.

(July 2003. Thanks to Patrouilles du Monde website.)


More aerobatic team packages for Flight Sims

Mark Beaumont, designer of the Red Arrows flight sim packages mentioned below, has now released some more BAe Hawk-related Freeware add-ons for Microsoft's Flight Simulator : The RSAF Saudi Hawks and the Royal Navy/Fradu Black Seahawks teams.

For full details and to download the Saudi Hawks package, go to

For full details and to download the Black Seahawks package, go to

You can also fly a Patrouille de France 9-ship formation of Fouga Magisters in FS2002, with a package from Kari Virtanen - details and download from

(July 2003.)


Thunderbirds 50th anniversary art

To commemmorate the USAF Thunderbirds 50th anniversary this year, the Thunderbirds Alumni Association have authorised a number of prints from a series of watercolor paintings by master watercolor artist David Lobenberg.

There will be a total of 11 paintings of which, at the time of writing, two are completed so far (the first is illustrated here). They will be available in a range of different sized prints, lithographs and posters, and a percentage of the sales will be contributed to the TBAA Educational Scholarship Fund.

For full details and ordering information, please go to :

(June 2003.)


Midnight Hawks get their own support aircraft

Finland's Midnight Hawks have started to use a Valmet L-90TP Redigo as their support aircraft in Finland. When the team flies to an open day or similar event, where they are not staying overnight - possibly not even landing, the teams supervisor/flight safety officer flies to the display site in this Valmet L-90TP Redigo. A spare Hawk aircraft is now picked up from the destination, and one is ready at home base too. So for example, there was open day at Rissala AB on 28.5.2003. Rissala AB is home of Fighter Squadron 31, and they have Hawks. One of their Hawks was already on the ramp as a spare when team arrived, so the Supervisor/Safety officer (one guy - two roles) uses the Redigo, as it is much cheaper.

This photo of the Redigo shows it in the colours of Fighter Squadron 11. So far, the team's Redigo hasn't received any special markings... so far...


The following two photos of the Midnight Hawks were taken from the Redigo on the way to Rissala AB Open day. Due the speed differential between the Hawks and the Redigo, the Midnight Hawks flew flaps and gear down in formation !

Midnight Hawks Midnight Hawks

(click on the thumbnails for larger photos)

(June 2003. Photos and information from SIG member Perttu Karivalo, Finland.)


Exclusive photos of Halcones new Extra 300L aircraft

The Chilean Air Force Halcones team have recently traded in their Extra 300 aircraft for the new Extra 300L "low wing" model. Here are some exclusive photos of the team in action in their new aircraft, kindly sent to us by Alvaro Romero, Aviavision Chile. The photos were taken during AeroExpo Quintero 2003 (March 8th 2003) and the Chilean AF open day (March 29th 2003). The last photo in the set shows what has happened to at least one of the team's "old" mid-winged Extra 300 aircraft !

(click on the thumbnails for larger photos) :-

(June 2003. Photos and information from Alvaro Romero, Aviavision Chile.)


Ex-Khalifa Team get new sponsor

It appears that the ex-Khalifa Jet Team may now have a new sponsor - watch makers Breitling.

These exclusive photographs were taken at the team's base of Longvic, France, on Monday 5th May, by Ivan Brocot; they show just one of the team's L-39's painted up in Breitling livery. The vertical fin now sports the "Apache" logo, for the team's opearating Company, Apache Aviation, owned by team Leader, Jacques Bothelin.

Breitling L-39 Apache logo
Click on the thumbnails for larger photos :

Let's hope that this is long-term good news for the team.

(May 2003. Thanks to Michel Seichon, France, for the news and for passing on the exclusive photos by Ivan Brocot.)


Russian Knights for RIAT 2003....?

News has reached us from the Royal International Air Tattoo Press Office that the Russian Knights have officially confirmed (all being well) that they will attend RIAT 2003 at RAF Fairford, England on 15th - 20th July 2003. This news is not yet posted on the RIAT website and as ever with RIAT, things could change before the show.... But so far, it is looking good - RIAT will fund the team's fuel for the transit flights and Sukhoi have installed Western compatible avionics and GPS systems into 8 Flankers (6 plus 2 spares).

So hopefully, the team will appear - and you read it here first !

(April 2003.)


Patrouille de France 2003 markings

Patrouille de France 2003To commemorate their 50th anniversary in 2003, the Patrouille de France have applied special markings to the tailfins of all their Alpha Jets. The gold markings depict each of the different types of aircraft the team has flown in their 50-year history, starting at the bottom with the F-84G Thunderjet, then the MD.450 Ouragan, the Dassault Mystere IVa, the Fouga Magister and finally their current mount, the Alpha Jet.

Click on the photo for a larger view.

(April 2003. Thanks to SIG member Didier Peltre, France.)


Frecce Tricolori to perform in Russia

The Frecce Tricolori are scheduled to appear at the MAKS 2003 show at Zhukovsky Airport, Russia, on 21st, 22nd & 23rd August. The team were previously scheduled to visit Russia in August 2002, but this was cancelled two days before they were due to go for "security reasons", following the tragic crash of a Ukrainian Su-27 at an airshow in the Ukraine.

(April 2003. Thanks to SIG member Nicola Foschia, Italy.)


Thunderbirds 50th anniversary commemorative book

Thunderbirds Alumni Association LogoTo celebrate the Golden anniversary of the USAF Thunderbirds, a special commemorative book is being produced by the Thunderbirds Alumni Association.

Entitled "We Rode the Thunder - The Autobiography of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds", the book will be a 12 x 9 inch coffee table-size collector's edition, beautifully bound, with its 200 pages of high-quality glossy paper including significant historical details and illustrated with hundreds of colorful photographs, some of which have never been published. It has been written/edited by Bob Gore, who was the Thunderbirds Public Affairs Officer in 1976 and currently edits the Thunderbirds Alumni Association's newsletter.

The books are scheduled to ship at the end of July 2003, but special copies can be pre-ordered now : The pre-order deadline is May 1st 2003 and any books ordered before then will be individually numbered, contain “Commemorative 50th Anniversary Edition” on the cover and dust jacket and will actually be signed by Dick Catledge, the very first Thunderbirds leader ! In addition to that, for a small additional fee, you can also have your name embossed on the front cover too !

The pre-order price of the book is $44.95 for the Deluxe Standard Edition, or $84.00 for the Bonded Leather Edition, plus shipping and taxes, etc. Full details and an order form are contained in a .PDF file, which you can download HERE.

However, please note that this does not include any details of shipping costs outside of the U.S.A. : To enquire about overseas shipping rates, contact the publishers, M.T. Publishing Company, at

Don't forget - the pre-order deadline for this book is 1st May 2003 !

(April 2003. Thanks to Dee Pfeiffer, TBAA, and Jason Stoermer, M.T. Publishing Company, U.S.A.)


EX-Khalifa Jet Team ...... update :

Since losing their coporate sponsorship, the EX-Khalifa Jet Team have been seen taking to the air again at Dijon Longvic. Their four L-39 aircraft are still wearing their dark blue colour scheme with yellow trim, but the yellow bird on the tailfin and all the "Khalifa" markings have now been removed from the aircraft. Upon landing an hour later, there was a short photo-session with the pilots, crew chiefs and the four people who had just flown in the rear seats of the aircraft.

(April 2003. Thanks to Michel Seichon, France.)


New colours for the Swifts

Upon discovering that the Russian MiG-29 equipped Strizhi (Swifts) team now have a new website of their own, it seems that they also have a splashy new colour scheme on their aircraft too !!

Check it out at :

At the moment, the site is all in Russian (although it says that an English version is coming soon....), so it is a little difficult to get specific details - but it seems that the team are now back to six aircraft again (for the first time since 1999) and since March 2003, all of their aircraft have now been repainted in an intricate white/blue/red colour scheme.

(April 2003.)


Yellow numbers for the Midnight Hawks

Following on from our report in September 2002, "Finland's Midnight Hawks change colour" (see below), it was decided at a meeting in January 2003 that until further notice, the team would continue to use the "old" yellow fin numbers instead of the "experimental" white numbers on their all-grey Hawks.

(April 2003. Thanks to SIG member Perttu Karivalo, Finland.)


Hunter Team looking for sponsorship

The Old Flying Machine Company (OFMC) and Hawker Hunter Aviation Ltd. are looking to operate a Hawker Hunter-equipped display team. The team is proposed to be a total of eight aircraft, five for the display routine, with the other three as reserves. Most of the aircraft are ex-Swiss Air Force Hunter mk.58's (some even ex-Patrouille Suisse aircraft), but they also have a pair of two-seaters as well. Currently, they are actively seeking Corporate sponsorship and are offering a full advertising and promotional package, including sponsoring the team name (eg. "XXXXX Hunter Team") and having all the aircraft, vehicles and team members fully adorned in the sponsors' colours and logos.

For the full story, check out their website at :

(April 2003. Thanks to Jason Phelan, England.)


Khalifa Jet Team grounded

This French civilian team, who were only formed in 2002, have been grounded because the Khalifa Group have withdrawn their sponsorship.

They were hoping to be able to increase their formation to display with five L-39 aircraft during 2003, one more than last season, but this has now been put on hold, for the time being at least. However, they had already managed to install smoke systems in the aircraft before their funding was withdrawn. Due to the apparent financial difficulties within the Khalifa Group, it seems that this situation was not entirely unexpected by the team and they had already been actively searching for a new sponsor - Team Leader, Jacques Bothelin was quoted as saying "It is not impossible that the Team may change identity before the season".

We wish them good luck in finding a suitable new sponsor and look forward to seeing the team back in the air again as soon as possible.

(March 2003. Thanks to Patrouilles du Monde website, Jason Phelan and SIG member Paul McIvor.)


Voltige Victor Tragedy

The French Mirage F1 duo Voltige Victor, have crashed during training, killing both pilots.

The accident happened on Monday 10th March 2003, when the team were practicing at their home base of Reims. Eyewitness reports say that they were flying in close line astern at low level, when the number two aircraft climbed slightly and hit the wing of the Leader. One of the aircraft crashed at the end of the runway, while the other came down in a field about 500 metres away. The two pilots who were killed were Team Leader Lt. Guillaume Coeffin, 32 years old, 2200 flight hours, on his second year with the team, and the number 2 pilot Lt. Michel Vernat, also 32 years old, 2100 flight hours, on his first year with the team. The official cause of the accident is not yet known.

It is only now that we learned of the team's official website at It seems that the Leader, Guillaume Coeffin, was the webmaster, so the site may not get updated any longer.

Our condolences go to the family and friends of both Guillaume Coeffin and Michel Vernat.

(March 2003. Thanks to Patrouilles du Monde website, David Morphew, Paul McIvor and Phil Adams, for sending reports.)


Halcones fly their first public display with new Extra 300L

The Chilean Air Force Halcones performed their first public display in their newly-acquired Extra 300L aircraft at "AeroExpo Quintero 2003", in Quintero, Chile, over the weekend of 8th & 9th March 2003.

You can see a selection of photos of the team at the event on this website :

(March 2003. Thanks to Alvaro Romero, Aviavision Chile)


Fly with the Frecce Tricolori - in virtual 3D !

With the aid of a Web Browser plug-in, you can now experience what it is like to fly an airshow with the Frecce Tricolori !

Go to and you will be able to fly some manoeuvres with the team and see the virtual show through a number of user-controlled cameras, including from the aircraft. The site has been officially endorsed by the Frecce Tricolori and their pilots provided the information needed for the virtual reconstruction and beta-tested it.

(March 2003.)


Biele Albatrosy on hold in 2003

A simple statement on the team's official website at says that "Aerobatic team Biele Albatrosy shall have no performances in the year 2003. General repairs of aircrafts will continue all the year round."

Let's hope we see them back again in 2004....

(March 2003.)


Snowbirds Keyhangers

For aerobatic team fans who keep losing your car or house keys - now available, there is a range of key hangers in the profile shape of a Canadair Tutor, individually hand-painted in the colours of the 2002 Snowbirds team, including matching/accurate serial and tail numbers. Also available in the range are a number of other Canadian Forces aircraft.

They sell for CDN$15.00 each and are available from : Night Rails Video Productions, P.O.Box 3676 Sta B, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3A-5L7.

For more information, contact Robbie Arbeau at

(March 2003. Thanks to Robbie Arbeau, Canada.)


French Mirage Bravo duo activated for 2003

The Armee de l'Air have officially activated a "Bravo Presentation" of two Mirage 2000, from Luxeuil Air Base. The team pilots for 2003 are Cne. Schwebel and Cne. Letuppe.

(March 2003. Thanks to Patrouilles du Monde website, France.)


BAe Hawk Team packages for Flight Sims

For those of you into computer Flight Sims, you can now fly with your favourite teams !

There is a Freeware add-on release available for Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2002 to enable you to fly a BAe Hawk with the RAF Red Arrows - you can find out full details and download the package from the designer's own website at

You can also fly with Finland's Midnight Hawks - download this package from

And coming soon from Mark Beaumont, designer of the Red Arrows packages - you will be able to fly with the Saudi Hawks too !

These and many other team aircraft, are also available from

(March 2003. Thanks to Mark Beaumont, USA.)


Team 60 reduced to four aircraft

Due to "big reorganisations in the Swedish Air Force", their display team, Team 60, has reduced from six to four aircraft for the 2003 season - for the same reasons, they have also announced that they will not be doing any international displays in 2003 either. However, they hope to be able to go back up to six aircraft again in 2004.

(February 2003. Report on the Team 60 website.)


Cruz del Sur accident

An Su-29AR aircraft of the Argentinian Cruz del Sur aerobatic team has crashed, resulting in the death of two pilots. The accident happened on Monday 3rd February, about 25km from Mendoza and the two pilots who died were ViceComodoro Cortez and Captain Danilo Soldera. The aircraft involved and the cause of the crash are both unknown at this time.

Our sympathies go to the families, and to the team.

(February 2003. Thanks to Raul Hrubisko, Argentina.)


USAF Thunderbirds 50th Anniversary logo

Thunderbirds 50th anniversary logo - click for a larger versionFor their 50th anniversary year in 2003, the USAF Thunderbirds have plans to place this logo on the side of their aircraft. At the time of writing, this logo has not yet been approved, but the team are hoping to receive official approval and have it on their aircraft in time for their opening show on 15th March 2003.

Click the logo to see a larger version :

(February 2003. Thanks to Captain Sean M. Cotter, USAFADS Executive Officer, Thunderbird #10.)


Asas de Portugal DID fly in Alpha Jets !

Although the Asas de Portugal were allegedly going to reform on Alpha Jets, all evidence discovered so far indicates that this never actually happened.... until now !!

Check out :

It appears that an Asas de Portugal team did actually exist, in Alpha Jets, in 1997 - and this website has the evidence to prove it.

(February 2003. Thanks to SIG member Phil Adams, Germany, for finding the site.)


The end for Indonesian Team Jupiter....?

Following their accident in March 2002 (see "Indonesian Team Crash", below), we have heard from Chris Caton, BAe Systems representative in Indonesia, that there is unlikely to be a new team in the forseeable future. Indonesian A.F. budgets have also been drastically cut, which will only aggravate the situation still further.

The remaining members of the team are hoping to continue flying when funds can be found for their operations, so the team is not gone forever, rather "on hold" until further notice.

(February 2003. Thanks to SIG member Perttu Karivalo, Finland.)


Snowbirds get "home" airshow again

For the first time since 2000, there will be a summer airshow at 15 Wing (formerly CFB Moose Jaw) the home of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds air demonstration squadron.

The 2001 show was cancelled because the schedule of flying training at the base (operation of which was then being privatized into the hands of Bombardier, the Canadian aerospace conglomerate) had fallen behind. The 2002 show was cancelled because of several factors including insurance costs and, also a shortage of volunteers. But there are now plans for a one-day airshow on Sunday, July 6, at the base.

(January 2003. Thanks to Will Chabun, Canada.)


Explanation for Patrouille de France U.S. tour cancellation

An article has been posted on the official website for the Dayton, Ohio Airshow, where the Patrouille de France were originally due to appear alongside the Thunderbirds, the Blue Angels and the Snowbirds on 17th - 20th July 2003.

It explains that the reason for the cancellation of the Patrouille de France's appearance is due to budgetary restraints placed upon the French Air Force as a result of the ongoing participation of French forces all over the world, in the fight against terrorism.

To read the whole article and letter from the French Ambassador to the U.S.A., click here.

(January 2003. Thanks to SIG member John Cooper, U.S.A.)


Four Horsemen team in magazine feature

The March 2003 issue of U.S. magazine "Aviation History", contains an article about the Four Horsemen team, which performed from 1957 to 1960, equipped with four C-130 Hercules aircraft.

(January 2003. Thanks to SIG member Terry Mish, U.S.A.)


2003 Patrouille de France U.S. Tour cancelled

Sadly, the planned tour of the USA by the Patrouille de France in 2003 appears to have been cancelled.

Reasons for the cancellation are not yet known, but as 2003 is the team's 50th anniversary, it is easy to speculate that perhaps they will have enough engagements at home and no time to venture across the Atlantic....?

(January 2003. Report from Patrouilles du Monde website.)


Female leader for Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team

The Czech-based civilian team formerly known as Skybox, have got a female pilot leading them into 2003.

Radka Máchová is an ex-member of the Czechoslovakian national aerobatic team, and has been training with the Zlin 50-equipped Flying Bulls team since 2001, in preparation for taking over as Leader from Jiri Tlusty, at the end of 2002.

Here are a few exclusive photos of Radka leading the team (click on the thumbnails for larger photos) :-

Flying Bulls 01 Flying Bulls 02 Flying Bulls 03 Flying Bulls 04

For more information about the Flying Bulls Aerobatics Team, go to

(January 2003. Photos and information from Margit Langecker, Vienna, Austria.)


Long-awaited book is now on release !!       * UPDATED INFORMATION *

Cover illustration"A Tradition of Excellence", by former Snowbirds Leader Dan Dempsey, is a complete history of Canada's airshow team heritage, from the earliest days of aviation in Canada, right up to 2002.

The book has taken seven years to complete and the result is a phenomenal piece of aviation literature, which covers every conceivable aspect of every aerobatic team and demonstration unit in Canadian aviation history. It is packed with information, first-hand accounts and recollections from pilots and crew, and beautifully illustrated with paintings, illustrations and hundreds of never-before-published photographs ! This monster of a book comes in at 734 pages of glossy art paper, hard-bound with a fine embossed dust jacket - it is surely the ultimate reference to Canadian airshow teams, ever.

The book is priced at $115.00 Canadian, including shipping within Canada, or $80.00 US, including shipping to the USA and overseas. The book is now available from Midland Counties Publications in the UK, and through Christian Schmidt in Germany, so anyone wanting a copy, please contact either of these vendors, or the main distributor, Vanwell Publishing. You can email Vanwell at :, or, or As a last resort, if anyone still has trouble obtaining a copy of this book, contact High Flight Enterprises directly at : .

You will NOT be disappointed !

(December 2002)


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