From a slow, measured glide to heart-stopping nosedives, spectators at this year's Singapore Airshow can look forward to eight new aerial manoeuvres by the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) elite Black Knight pilots.
The Black Knights, who will make their first appearance since the event's inaugural edition six years ago, unveiled their new moves at a high-octane aerial display in Tuesday's media preview. The same 22-minute display will also be put up at the Airshow, which will be held on Feb 11 to 16 at the Changi Exhibition Centre.
The highlights are four complex and intricate manoeuvres, including two which will be performed for the first time in the world by a F-16 aerobatic team.
The first manoeuvre, dubbed "Twist and Shout", involves four Black Knights repeatedly changing positions while flying in a "V" formation. It is rivalled in difficulty perhaps only by the "Double Inverted Wrap" in which two Knights fly upside down, while two others spiral around them.
The 21 manoeuvres were carefully chosen from over 40 moves the team had brainstormed, said Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) Joseph Leong, 44, leader of this year's Black Knights. On top of studying professional aerobatic teams from France and Italy, they also considered the F-16's limitations, and whether each move would have a "wow factor".
"We've tried to make sure there's a good balance for the professionals and non-aviators, and to pack it within 22 minutes to showcase as much as we can," he said, noting that the F-16C Fighting Falcon jets will travel at speeds of up to 1,000 kmh, and come as close as "a couple of feet" to each other.
Several stunts were also planned to give spectators a closer look at the jets, freshly painted with the Republic's national symbols of the crescent moon and stars last July. Said LTC Leong: "When we fly, we carry the symbols of Singapore on our aircraft. And we wear that with pride every time we perform."
The Singapore Airshow is touted as being among the top three airshows in the world, after Paris' Le Bourget and Britain's Farnborough. The last time it was held, in February last year, the show attracted more than 90,000 visitors.