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Two new aerobatic teams take to the skies

(China Daily)

16:13, August 26, 2011

BEIJING - The People's Liberation Army Air Force announced on Thursday the formation of two aerobatic demonstration teams, which will make their debuts at an air show next month.

The teams, named the Flying Wings and Red Eagles, will make their debuts at the Changchun Air Show to be held in Northeast China next month. They are meant to help pave the way for international military exchanges and to make the public more aware of China's national interest in airspace security, said Zhao Jingbo, deputy chief of the Chinese Air Force Command's training department.

To that end, they will work alongside the August First Air Demonstration Team, the aerobatic demonstration team of the People's Liberation Army Air Force.

"If we call the August First Air Demonstration Team the national team or professional team, the other two will be province teams or amateur teams," Zhao said.

"These three teams will learn from each other and improve the image of China's air force in the eyes of the national and international public."

The Flying Wings are affiliated with the Aviation University of the Air Force, the alma mater of Yang Liwei, the first Chinese astronaut. The Red Eagles, meanwhile, are affiliated with the No 3 Aviation College of the People's Liberation Army, which trained Zhai Zhigang, the first Chinese man to walk in space.

The three teams have all chosen to fly planes that were developed by China.

The Flying Wings will use the Nanchang CJ-6, a two-seat plane that China has produced and exported more than any other aircraft. The Red Eagles, for their part, decided to use the Hongdu K-8, a new type of subsonic jet aircraft.

Unlike the August First team, the two new teams will enlist pilots who are considered to be first-class flight instructors. The Flying Wings in particular will have pilots who can boast 2,000 hours of flying time on average, which is double the number of those hours that can be claimed by the August First Air Demonstration Team.

The August First team, which uses Chengdu J-10 fighters in its shows, is among the top four aerobatic demonstration teams that perform in somewhat outdated fighter jets in their shows.

The other three are the US Air Force Thunderbirds, the Knights and Swifts both Russian.

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