Black Eagles aerobatic team

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53rd Air Demonstration Group
"Black Eagles"
T-50B Blackeagles Demo Flight (12201493173).jpg
The Black Eagles flying in formation in 2011
CountryFlag of South Korea.svg Republic of Korea
BranchRoundel of South Korea.svgRepublic of Korea Air Force
RoleAerobatic demonstration Team
Size8 planes
Part ofRepublic of Korea Air force headquarters
Garrison/HQWonju AB, Gangwon province
Motto(s)팀워크 (EN : Team Work)
ColorsBlack, Yellow, White
Col(S). Jungsoo Kim
Aircraft flown
Attack1994 ~ 2007 : A-37B
Trainer2009 ~ : T-50B Golden Eagle

The 53rd Air Demonstration Group, nicknamed Black Eagles, is the flight display team of the Republic of Korea Air Force based at Wonju AB, Gangwon Province.

The ROKAF Aerobatic Team has operated in various occasions of national ceremonies. The permanent team was initially formed on December 12, 1994 and flew six Cessna A-37B Dragonfly airplanes. The team disbanded temporarily after the 2007 Seoul Air Show and reformed upon the arrival of their new T-50 Golden Eagle aircraft code-named as T-50B in 2010.[1]


T-50Bs at the Royal International Air Tattoo in 2012

The Republic of Korea Air Force Black Eagles aerobatic team has operated in various occasions of national ceremonies and at international air shows.

The original display team was formed on October 1, 1953 and operated four F-51 Mustangs. In October, 1956 a new display team the T-33A Show Flight Team was formed.

On October 1, 1959 a new display team was formed. This team was called the Blue Sabre and they flew four F-86 Sabre jet airplanes. This team was disbanded in 1966.

In 1967, a new display team, the Black Eagles, was formed. It operated between 1966 through 1978 and flew seven Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighters. From 1966 to 1969 the aircraft were F-5As. Flying was suspended from 1970 to 1972, and from 1973 to 1978 the aircraft used were RF-5As. In 1978 the team was disbanded in order to enhance defense preparedness.

The full-time aerobatic team, the Black Eagles, was re-established as the 2nd flight of the 238th Fighter Squadron, the 8th Fighter Wing on December 12, 1994 and flew six Cessna A-37B Dragonfly airplanes. On April 1, 1999 the flight was detached from the 238 FS, and became the 239th Aerobatic Flight Squadron.

After the Seoul Air Show in 2007, the Black Eagles team was temporarily disbanded on October 31, 2007 for transitioning to their new T-50 Golden Eagle. The farewell flight mission was directed by Gen. KIM Eun-gi, Air force Chief of Staff on October 10, 2007.

The reformation was scheduled for 2010, but ahead of schedule in time, the Black Eagles was re-established on August 2009, and performed an air show to fly over Seoul on September 23, 2009 to commemorate the Republic of Korean Airforce (ROKAF) 60th anniversary.[2]

On July 1, 2012 the Black Eagles was awarded the Boeing Trophy for best display at the 17th Waddington International Air Show.[3]

On July 8, 2012, the Black Eagles were awarded the King Hussein Memorial Sword, for the Best Overall Flying Demonstration and the As The Crow Flies Trophy at the awards ceremony of the Royal International Air Tattoo, on their first appearance at the airshow.

On April 1, 2013, the squadron was authorized to expand to an independent group level, the 53rd Air Demonstration Group, including the 239th squadron and its dedicated maintenance flights, was established under the direct control of the ROKAF Headquarters. Now the Black Eagles are not commanded by the 8th Fighter Wing, but the group is still based at Wonju AB alongside its ex-parent unit and supported by the wing's logistics and support units.


Aircraft Origin Number of aircraft Dates of service Notes
North American Aviation F-51 Mustang United States 4 1953–1954 aircraft F-51D. Performed once a year on October 1
Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star United States 4 1956–1959 aircraft T-33A. Performed once a year on October 1
North American Aviation F-86 Sabre United States 4 1959–1966 aircraft F-86F. Performed once a year on October 1
Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter United States 7 1966–1978 aircraft F-5A/RF-5A. (One aircraft was a spare). 7+(1).
Cessna A-37B Dragonfly United States 6 1994–2007 aircraft A-37B. Reformed on December 12, 1994

(Two aircraft are spares.) 6+(2).

The A-37B used by the team retired in 2007.

KAI T-50B Golden Eagle South Korea 8 2009—present Unit has been reformed upon delivery of their new aircraft T-50B.

(Two aircraft are spares.) 8+(2).

T-50 characteristics[edit]

Republic of Korea Air Force Black Eagles fly in formation during Air Power Day 2016 on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Sept. 25, 2016. Air Power Day was a two-day event that highlighted the partnership between the Republic of Korea and the U.S. military.

The Black Eagles' T-50B is painted in yellow, white, and black. It is equipped with an internal smoke generation system which creates a thick smoke trail. The aircraft is basically the same as the original T-50 except for the smoke generation system, several cameras, and two wingtip visible lights.


The thick smoke trails of the Black Eagles aerobatic team are made by releasing diesel and oil into the exhaust nozzle; this mixture immediately oxidizes, leaving a white smoke trail. There are two smoke tanks in the aircraft, each designed to carry about 60 gallon of smoke oil. The smoke system can control the quantity of oil released, so each aircraft can trail smoke for seven to twenty minutes.


The Black Eagles group demonstrates organized teamwork and sophisticated flight skills. The display is composed of about 30 aerobatic maneuvers. The team has a total of eight aircraft in formation. Formations with 4~8 aircraft usually show grandeur and sophistication at the same time. One to four plane maneuvers show thrills and excitement. During an aerobatics display, pilots experience forces up to 4 to 5 g's, and when performing the aerobatic maneuver 'Maximum maneuver', forces up to 11 g (the structural limit of the aircraft).

2017 Full Display (High Show) Sequence[edit]

  • 1. Change Loop (Big Arrow to Penta) then Reverse (Arrow): 8 Ship formation change loop
  • 2. Change Turn(Cross to Penta) then Turn (Diamonde to Albatross to Eagle): 8 Ship formation change turn
  • 3. Roll (Wedge) : 8 ship roll
  • 4. Bon Ton Roulle then Roll Off (Penta to Canard) and join vertical reverse: 8 ship simultaneous roll
  • 5. Rainfall: 8 ships clover-leaf then split
  • 6. Scissor Pass: 4 ships
  • 7. Box Cross: 4 ships
  • 8. Triple Turn: 2 ships
  • 9. Goose: 6 ships
  • 10. Heart and Cupid: 3 ships
  • 11. Orchid: 5 ships
  • 12. 2 ships High and Loop: 3 ships
  • 13. Roll Back and Afterburner Loop: 5 ships
  • 14. Taegeuk (태극): 2 ships (the national flag of Korea)
  • 15. Gourd Bottle: 6 ships
  • 16. Line Abreast Cross Break: 2 ships
  • 17. Inverted Bottom Up Pass: 2 ships
  • 18. Echelon Review: 4 ships
  • 19. Double Helix: 4 ships
  • 20. Snake Rolls: 4 ships
  • 21. Dizzying Break: 4 ships
  • 22. Twist Roll: 4 ships
  • 23. Maximum Maneuver: 1 ship
  • 24. Victory Break: 7 ships
  • 25. Typhoon Landing: 8 ships


  • On May 8, 1998, during a training flight, two of the team's planes collided in mid-air. One of the planes crashed killing the team leader of the Black Eagles. The other plane landed with minor damage.
  • On May 5, 2006 At the Suwon Air Base, an A-37B crashed onto the far edge of the runway during an air show that was intended to celebrate Children's Day.[4] Crowds ranging in thousands, including many children, witnessed the crash.
  • On November 15, 2012, a South Korean air force pilot from the service's Black Eagles aerobatic display team was killed when his KAI T-50B trainer crashed in a mountainside in the area of Hoengsong, about 48 nm (90 km) east of Seoul,[5] due to human error during a maintenance operation.[6]
  • On February 6, 2018, one of the team's planes flipped over after one of its tyres burst on take off at Changi Airport. It was taking off in preparation for a display at the Singapore Airshow.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Govindasamy, Siva (March 19, 2008). "PICTURES: South Korea's Black Eagles to fly KAI T-50". Aircraft. Retrieved July 6, 2008.
  2. ^ "Tail blazers". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2012-07-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Mitchell, Terence (2006-06-10). "Pilot Deaths Put F-15 Deal in Doubt - Korea stunned by deaths of 3 pilots in less than a month". Ohmynews. Archived from the original on July 31, 2008. Retrieved July 6, 2008.
  5. ^ "South Korean display team pilot killed in T-50B crash". Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  6. ^ For Want Of A Wire -, December 12, 2012
  7. ^ "Singapore Airshow: Single-seater aircraft involved in accident; pilot escapes with minor injuries". The Straits Times. 6 February 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2018.

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