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Display flight sequence strikes the right chord

Air Force
Publication date 21.5.2024 10.13 | Published in English on 7.6.2024 at 14.27
Press release

For the 2024 display season, the official aerobatic team of the Air Force, the Midnight Hawks, will offer a sophisticated and varied series.

The flying members of the team will remain the same as in 2023: the flight will be led by Captain Juho Tervahartiala, no. 2 on the left wing will be Captain Ville Kirijatshenko and no. 3 on the right, Captain Joonas Sunnari. Bringing up the rear will be no. 4 Captain Petteri Wahlgren. This year, the team has a double ‘seven’, with Captain Lauri Lappalainen continuing as commentator together with rookie Lieutenant Arttu Majuri. Captain Oskari Tähtinen will continue as supervisor.

Last season was almost completely missed due to the Hawk accident and the resultant grounding of the Hawks. Now the grounding has been lifted and the Midnight Hawks' season is looking bright. Training sessions have been numerous and the flight is bursting with enthusiasm to get back in front of audiences.

- We’ve really been looking forward to this spring. We had so many regrets about last season. We’ve had plenty of time to fine-tune the display flight routine and make small improvements. It seems that the changes have hit the mark and sunk in and now we have good manoeuvres that fit the flow of the display sequence.

So it's a diamond dynamic and diverse display flight routine, with a line abreast loop, trailing vortex, waterfall and heart – not forgetting the Midnight Hawks’ trademark, the tight diamond. Juho emphasises the good manoeuvring and flexibility of the display flight sequence.

- The manouvres are that, whatever the weather, we can always offer the best solution. We can always go for the maximum. We can also bring some really dynamic movements to both medium- and bad weather display flight routine, he says.

- You could say that the display flight sequence is version 1.1. from last year – everything has been fine-tuned and improved. We also have one more seven. I can promise you that we’ll certainly do better than last year at Pirkkala. It's a familiar display flight routine, and everyone has more experience, said Joonas Sunnari before the season started.

The whole display flight sequence has been designed collaboratively by the team members. The Midnight Hawks pilots work full-time as flight instructors in the 41st Fighter Squadron of the Air Force Academy and stress that display flying is done with a big heart and for the love of flying. The display routine has been conceived, designed and refined alongside the team’s main work and, unlike in many other countries, there is no display flying machinery behind it. The team members are closely supported in the air and on the ground.

- We’re a very close-knit team. It's the greatest feeling to do this together, supporting each other, says Ville Kirijatshenko.

The season kicked off on 15 May at the Satakunta Air Wing’s Careers in Military Aviation event at Pirkkala. In Finland, the summer of aviation includes, among other things, the main air show of the Finnish Aeronautical Association, the Vaasa Airshow and the Careers in Military Aviation events organised by the Air Force Academy and Lapland Air Command. 

One of the highlights of the season is the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), one of the largest air shows in the world, which will take place from 19 to 21 July in the UK. The Midnight Hawks were last seen at the event in 2017, when the flight's then-announcer Juho Tervahartiala was also involved.

- I’m sure everyone has high expectations. But, in general, to be able to perform during the season is pretty cool. We’re really looking forward to all the events, says Ville.

- Yes, I’ve learned over the past year not to take anything for granted. We’re very happy to be doing what we love, says Juho.

The Midnight Hawks will perform at the following airshows and events during the display season:

- 15–16 June Vaasa Airshow
- 19 – 21 July Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), UK
- 15 August Lapland Air Wing's Careers in Military Aviation event, Rovaniemi


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