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Up-Up and Away: ROKAF Black Eagles Blare Through Kunsan Skies

  • Published

On any normal day at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, the sight and sound of Wolf Pack F-16 Fighting Falcons can be seen and heard blaring through the skies overhead.

However, for the first time ever, Sept. 9, 2021, the black, gold and white T-50 aircraft of the Republic of Korea Air Force Black Eagles performed technical aerobatic maneuvers in the Kunsan airspace.

“As a former Thunderbird, current base commander, and longtime partner to the Airmen of the Republic of Korea Air Force, it has been incredible to watch the Black Eagles perform here at Kunsan,” said U.S. Air Force Col. John Gallemore, 8th Fighter Wing commander.

The team executed the practice demonstration to refine their performance, while increasing morale, and highlighting the partnership with those who live and work here.

“I do understand it’s a difficult time because of COVID; however, by performing here hopefully it regains some of the dream and hopeful moments for those at Kunsan,” said ROKAF Capt. Yong-ha Park, Black Eagle 8 pilot.

Since 1953 the Black Eagles Aerobatic Team has participated in many Airshows spanning the Korean Peninsula and across the world. Each airshow gives an opportunity for the team to showcase their capabilities and inspire those on the ground.

“I believe it’s anybody’s dream to fly,” said Park. “I think it represents more than a dream. It represents hope for many people. I quickly realized, after joining the Black Eagles, I am able to fulfill the hopes and dreams of many people who are watching me, and I’m always thankful and grateful that I can fly [with them].”

The team is comprised of nine pilots, 30 maintenance crew members and six assistant crew members. Each of whom play a critical role in ensuring each airshow is successful.

As with any aircraft, it takes a dedicated crew of maintainers to ensure the demonstrations go off without a hitch said MSgt. Jae-hyup Shin, maintenance chief for Black Eagle Seven.

“From takeoff to actually performing, maintainers are the ones behind the scenes to perform all the jobs necessary so the pilots can perform at their best during an airshow,” said Shin.

To hear and see the Black Eagles overhead is a unique experience by itself, but to see them fly for the first time over Kunsan symbolizes the constant dedication of the U.S. and ROK to strengthen their relationships.

“Opportunities like these, where I can sit next to our Korean counterparts, reinforce the importance of maintaining a strong partnership with our host nation allies, while we enjoy some heart-thumping airpower? Priceless,” said Gallemore. “To feel inspired and to reflect on what we’re capable of as an Air Force is a powerful thing.”