THE BLACK SEAHAWKS DISPLAY TEAM

The Black Seahawks display team consisted of four pilots from FRADU, based at RNAS Culdrose, and it first appeared on the airshow scene at selected events during 2001.
In later years, two Falcon 20s from Cobham Aviation Services based at Bournemouth joined the Black Seahawks team for displays, replicating their combined normal operationial duties that both companies undertake for the Royal Navy.

To start the combined display, the Falcons and the Black Seahawks arrive in 'Swan' formation, and then change to 'Vulcan' formation. The Falcons would then 'launch' the 4 Hawks, simulating a missile attack against a ship. After splitting into two formations the two teams would then manoeuvre for a combined airfield attack, before demonstrating individual formation flypasts and opposition passes.
As a finale, the Hawks rejoin the Falcons to carry out a close formation fly past and then break to land.

During the 2007 Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) held at RAF Fairford, the combined FRADU/Cobham team won the coveted King Hussein Memorial Sword for the best overall flying demonstration at the event, a feat that FRADU had accomplished many years before with the Blue Heron Hunter display team winning the Shell Trophy in 1977.

In true Blue Herons style, the Team was disbanded and then later reformed, but was placed 'at rest' following the end of the Fly Navy 100 celebration year in 2009. It did not display again in public.


TEAM HISTORY

2001 season

On the whim of former Red Arrows leader, and FRADU Chief pilot Brian Hoskins, the Black Seahawks were first formed prior to the 2001 airshow season. The team line-up consisted of Brian as leader, and FRADU task pilots Ken Rhodes, Martin Stoner and Harry Wilhelm. As was the case with the Blue Herons some 25 years previously, all display practices took place in the pilot's spare time outside of contracted taskings.
Martin Stoner was also a former Red Arrows team member, whereas Ken and Harry were former RAF Jaguar and German Navy Tornado pilots respectively.

Team members:
 
1. Brian Hoskins 2. Ken Rhodes 3. Martin Stoner 4. Harry Wilhelm

Display venues:
 
- RNAS Culdrose (17 July) - RIAT Fairford (28/29 July)


[ Mike Kerr]

2002 season

During 2002, Neil Buckland came into the team as a replacement for Martin Stoner in the No.3 position, who had stood down due to other work commitments.

Team members:
 
1. Brian Hoskins 2. Ken Rhodes 3. Neil Buckland 4. Harry Wilhelm

Display venues:
 
- RNAS Culdrose (17 July) - RIAT Fairford (20/21 July) - RNAS Yeovilton (21 September)


[ Mike Hall]

2003 season

FRADU task pilot Martin Stoner returned to the team after a year out, replacing Ken Rhodes in the No.2 slot.

Team members:
 
1. Brian Hoskins 2. Martin Stoner 3. Neil Buckland 4. Harry Wilhelm

Display venues:
 
- RNAS Culdrose (16 July)
got airborne but display was cancelled
- RIAT Fairford (19/20 July) - RNAS Yeovilton (20 September)


[ Mike Kerr]

2004 season

Following the award of FRADU's operational contract to Serco Defence and Aerospace, Brian Hoskins left FRADU.
His place in the team was taken by Warren Ward, who slotted into the No.2 position following Martin Stoner's promotion to leader.
A decision was also made to change the format of the display, and where possible involve a pair of Dassault Falcon 20s from FR Aviation (now Cobham) to demonstrate the role that the Hawks and Falcons undertake during Royal Navy taskings.

Team members:
 
1. Martin Stoner 2. Warren Ward 3. Neil Buckland 4. Harry Wilhelm

Display venues:
 
- Plymouth Navy Days (28-30 August) - RNAS Yeovilton (18 September)
Display was a 3-ship due to a team member being unwell


[ Gary Parsons]

2005 season

For the 2005 airshow season, the pilot line-up remained unchanged.

Team members:
 
1. Martin Stoner 2. Warren Ward 3. Neil Buckland 4. Harry Wilhelm

Display venues:
 
- RIAT Fairford (16/17 July) - RNAS Culdrose (20 July) - RNAS Yeovilton (17 September)


[ Mike Hall]

2006 season

The team was once more unchanged from the previous season.

Team members:
 
1. Martin Stoner 2. Warren Ward 3. Neil Buckland 4. Harry Wilhelm

Display venues:
 
- RNAS Yeovilton (8 July) - RNAS Culdrose (12 July) - RIAT Fairford (15/16 July)
  - Plymouth Navy Days (26-28 August)  


[ Wes Howes]

2007 season

For the third successive season, the Black Seahawks pilots remained as is.

Team members:
 
1. Martin Stoner 2. Warren Ward 3. Neil Buckland 4. Harry Wilhelm

Display venues:
 
- RNAS Yeovilton (7 July) - RIAT Fairford (14/15 July) - RNAS Culdrose (1 August)
     

Following the RNAS Culdrose display the Black Seahawks disbanded, its pilots feeling that the achievement of winning the King Hussein Memorial Sword for their outstanding display could not be bettered.


[ Gary Parsons]

2008 season

Prior to the 2008 display season, the Royal Navy approached former Black Seahawks team member Warren Ward, to request that he resurrect and lead a Royal Navy Hawk display team for the following two airshow seasons. This was in celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the Royal Navy. Sadly due to time constraints, it was not possible to put together a 4-ship Hawk team and therefore only two Hawks were used, in company with two Falcon 20's. Cdr. Simon Hargreaves was the second designated Hawk pilot.

Team members:
 
1. Warren Ward 2. Cdr Simon Hargreaves RN

Display venues:
 
- RNAS Yeovilton (5 July) - RAF Waddington (5/6 July) - RIAT Fairford (12/13 July)
  - RNAS Culdrose (30 July)  


[ Rob Feeley]

2009 season

In 2009, the Royal Navy 100th anniversary year, the Black Seahawks returned to a full 4-ship display team.
Joining the team for the first time as ex-RAF Harrier pilot Marcus de Ferranti, and former RAF Tornado pilot Wayne Newbery.
Where possible, the airframes that the team used during its displays were Fly Navy 100 liveried.

Team members:
 
1. Warren Ward 2. Marcus de Ferranti 3. Lt Cdr. Simon Hargreaves RNR 4. Wayne Newbery

Display venues:
 
- RAF Waddington (4/5 July) - RNAS Yeovilton (11 July) - RIAT Fairford (18/19 July)
- RNAS Culdrose (29 July) - Plymouth Navy Days (5/6 September)
   

Sadly due to budget restraints, the Black Seahawks team did not return for the 2010 season, and remained 'at rest' ever since.


[ Duncan Chase]

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