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Print Edition> Nation
UPDATED: September 19, 2011 NO. 38 SEPTEMBER 22, 2011
Mid-air Acrobatics
Two new aerobatic demonstration teams take to the skies

The Sky Wing's pilots are ready for take-off

A close encounter between two planes of the Sky Wing team

The Sky Wing planes "bloom" in the sky

The Red Falcon team pulls up after a steep dive

The Red Falcon team makes a flying eagle

Planes of the Bayi team in arrow formation

Dancing ribbons from the Bayi team

On September 1, two new aerobatic demonstration teams, the Sky Wing and the Red Falcon, debuted at an air show held in Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province. The show was staged at a ceremony held by the Aviation University of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force. Also performing at the show was the 50-year-old Bayi aerobatic demonstration team. The teams demonstrated their superlative flying skills, which showcase the quality of the air force's rigorous pilot training.

The Aviation University of the PLA established the Sky Wing this March, its team members are all highly experienced frontline flight instructors, and each pilot has flown more than 2,000 hours without an incident.

To perform its aerobatic feats the team uses domestically developed two-seat Nanchang CJ-6 trainers. Planes of this model were first put into service in 1962. In terms of exports and total production, the Nanchang CJ-6 still outnumbers any other China-built aircraft.

As an initial training aircraft used by the air force, the Nanchang CJ-6 has been used to train more than 10,000 pilots in the past 50 years.

The Red Falcon was also established this March, by the No.3 Aviation College of the PLA. Its members are also flight instructors, each of whom has flown more than 1,200 hours with a perfect safety record. Eight of the team's members took part in the National Day parade on October 1, 2009, in Beijing.

The Red Falcon uses Hongdu K-8 advanced jet trainers, a new subsonic jet aircraft developed by Hongdu Aviation Industry Group Ltd. This modern aircraft can reach a speed of 800 km per hour and the plane's service ceiling is 12,000 meters.

The Bayi team was set up on January 25, 1962. Nicknamed "Guard of Honor in the Blue Sky," it primarily performs at major national ceremonies. The team has staged nearly 400 performances for more than 600 delegations from 146 countries and regions. It also provides escort services to planes carrying government leaders. At the celebrations for China's 40th, 50th and 60th national days, the team was the first echelon to fly over the Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

During the air show on September 1, the Bayi team demonstrated 15 maneuvers, the Sky Wing more than 20 and the Red Falcon 25.

"These three teams will learn from each other and improve their flying skills," said Zhao Jingbo, deputy chief of the PLA Air Force Command's Training Department.

As part of the air show, air force weaponry was also exhibited at Dafangshen Airport in Changchun. Many planes, radar systems and missiles showcased in the 2009 National Day parade were on display. 

The author works for the People's Liberation Army General Staff Department

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