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The Black Cats

Blacks at Biggin - photo Marcus Jellyman
Black Cats 1 by Tony Strother
Black Cats 4 by Ian Matthews

The Royal Navy Helicopter Display Team have been a popular fixture on the Airshow circuit since 2003 under the title of The Lynx Pair, winning the Steadman Sword for the best British participant at the Royal International Air Tattoo in 2003.  In 2004, increased support from the Royal Navy and AgustaWestland Helicopters saw the team reinvented as “The Black Cats” for the forthcoming season.  The team are the first official RN helicopter display team since The Sharks, who disbanded in the mid 1990’s.

The team’s title “The Black Cats” comes from a combination of the Lynx wildcat featured on the 702 Squadron badge and the naval slang of ‘black catting’, which is a form of one-upmanship by having done something or owning something better than anyone else.
The dynamic display for the 2009 season features a full demonstration of the precision and aerobatic capabilities of the Lynx and her Navy Pilots.  The acclaimed aerobatic display features high-speed crosses, close formation work and opposing manoeuvres. This season will again include the “Swingboat”, an incredible manouevre which sees both aircraft moving backwards in close proximity in excess of 50 mph before recovering into a precision hover.

The Airshow season begins at the Southend Airshow on the 24th and 25th of May and will continue throughout the summer.  Preparations for the busy and exciting season of airshows have alread begun and after many hours of practice, the team will be assessed in May by COS(AVN), Rear Admiral Simon Charlier, in order to be cleared for public display and awarded the coveted Black Cats flying suit.

This year the team is lead and managed by ‘Black Lead’ (last years ‘Black 2’), Lt Dave Lilly RN who has over 2000 flying hours and many display hours in the Lynx.  ‘Black 2’ for the 2009 season is Lt AJ Thompson RN, a Lynx pilot with over 1000 flying hours and a natural ability for display flying.  The team’s assistant and commentator is Lt Rob Dixon RN and Chief Petty Officer Bradbury will lead the engineering team having been operating the Lynx aircraft for 20 years.

The Black Cats are very grateful to this years’ sponsors Rolls-Royce, Babcock, AgustaWestland, Breitling and Robert Frith Optometrists for all their valuable assistance.  In addition they are very grateful to Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee for use of the logo.