Black Cats (Royal Navy)

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The Black Cats
Royal Navy Black Cats Helicopter close manoeuvre.jpg
The Black Cats in 2010
Active2001 (2001)–present
CountryFlag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
BranchFleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy
RoleRoyal Navy Helicopter Display Team
Size6 aircrew and several support crew
Garrison/HQRNAS Yeovilton
ColoursGrey and Black
Aircraft flown
Attack helicopterAgustaWestland Wildcat HMA.2

The Black Cats are the Royal Navy's helicopter display team. The team is composed of two AgustaWestland Wildcat HMA.2 anti-submarine and anti-shipping helicopters, with the aircraft and crews drawn from 825 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.

The team performs at airshows and other public events around the UK and Europe. They perform a display which mixes close formation, opposition and synchronised manoeuvres.



The Black Cats were formed in 2001 and performed with the Westland Lynx. For their first three display seasons, the team was known as the 'Lynx Pair' - the "Black Cats" title was applied in 2004. The team's predecessors as the Royal Navy Helicopter Display Team were "The Sharks", who used four red Westland Gazelle helicopters and disbanded in 1992.

The team won the Steadman Sword for the best British participant at the Royal International Air Tattoo in 2003 and as "Les Chats Noirs" performed at the French Navy's 30th Anniversary of operating the Lynx at Lanveoc in Brittany.

  • Black 1: Lt Becky Frater[1]
  • Black 2: Lt Chris Chambers[1]
  • Black 1: Lt Chris Chambers[2]
  • Black 2: Lt Dave Fleming[2]
  • Black 1: Lt Dave Fleming[3]
  • Black 2: Lt Ian Brannighan[3]
  • Black 1 (Lynx) - Lt 'AJ' Thompson[4] previously Black 2 in 2009.[5]

Lynx & Wildcat[edit]

Due to the transition within the Royal Navy from the Lynx HMA.8 to the Wildcat HMA.2, one of the Lynxes was changed to a AgustaWestland Wildcat.[6]

  • Black 1 (Wildcat): Lt Cdr Gary McCall
  • Black 2 (Lynx): Lt Ian Houlston with Lt Frank Suter as observer

The 2014 season was the last year with the Lynx HMA.8.


During the 2015 season the team only used the AgustaWestland Wildcat HMA.2.

  • Black 1 (Wildcat): Lt David Lilly
  • Black 2 (Wildcat): Lt James Woods


  • Black 1: Lt Cdr David Lilly
  • Black 2: Lt Chris Rebbeck


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Black Cats display team's first female pilot at show". BBC News Online. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Chris takes the controls for anniversary of famous Lynx". Western Daily Press. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Black Cats helicopter team to get Bournemouth Air Festival crowds in a spin". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Royal Navy Lynx helicopters train on warship". Royal Navy. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Black Cats pilot looking forward to display at Yeovilton Air Day". Western Gazette. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  6. ^ "The Black Cats: just as exciting as any plane". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 18 April 2015.

External links[edit]

Official website