Midnight Hawks display flying to continue over plains of Ostrobothnia
The Finnish Air Force’s aerobatic display team Midnight Hawks is training for the season’s next performance. This season’s routine features impressive vertical manoeuvres.
The 2020 display team is made up of Air Force Academy’s air combat instructors who also flew in the last year’s composition: Captain Vesa Loukko, No. 1 Team Leader, Captain Eero Mannismäki, No. 2 Left Wing and Captain Juho Tervahartiala, No. 3 Right Wing.
The new team member this season is Captain Oskari Tähtinen, No. 4 Slot Position. He has previously served, for example, as an F/A-18 Hornet pilot at Lapland Air Command, Fighter Squadron 11. In summer 2018 he transferred to the Air Force Academy, Fighter Squadron 41.
– Even as a cadet, admiring the Midnight Hawks flying at Kauhava, I dreamt of how amazing it would be to get to do such things myself one day. This season my dream has come true, and it has been an incredible feeling to have a chance to fly in one of the world’s best aerobatic teams, he describes.
Last year Tähtinen got to know the Midnight Hawks and its duties more deeply on the ground as the team’s commentator - before transitioning to the slot pilot position.
– To adjust to flying in the slot position, No. 4, turned to be surprisingly easy and natural, thanks to the excellent instruction and coaching by the previous slot pilots. Because, as No. 4, I can trust the left and right wing aircraft to fly flawlessly and No. 1 to lead the team deliberately with great precision, flying in the slot position is nearly pure enjoyment, though my shirt is usually wet with sweat after flights. For No. 4, the best part of this year’s routine is the head-on passes after breaking up with the jaws in which I can get a bit farther off the formation to do my own thing.
The ground crew of the Midnight Hawks has also changed. Captain Jussi Nokso is the team’s new commentator and Captain Marko Nieminen started as the team’s senior engineering officer.
Captain Heikki Kankkio works as the supervisor for his second consecutive season.
Impressive vertical manoeuvres
Due to the prevailing circumstances the display season will remain short this year. For the first time, the aerobatic team demonstrated their manoeuvres on the Flag Day of the Finnish Defence Forces, 4 June, in the skies over Helsinki. Now we can enjoy the main air show of the Finnish Aeronautical Association in Kauhava from 29 to 30 August - Kauhava Air Show 2020 - and see the Midnight Hawks taking to the air from their former home base to fly over the plains of Ostrobothnia.
The routine sequence has been made slightly shorter for this season. The most noticeable difference is in the number of formation changes; they are now performed more than earlier also within the individual manoeuvres. The vertical manoeuvres that have been added to the sequence will heighten the visual impact of the routine, and the breaking up differs clearly from the previous years’ performance. The trademark of the team - tight diamond - can also be seen in this season. At its lowest, the flying altitude will be only 15 metres, and the speed will vary between 200 and 800 km/h.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the team members of the Midnight Hawks are split into groups that are not in contact with each other. To carry out training, alternative ways have been made use of: for example, the sorties have been assigned outdoors maintaining physical distance. Safe distancing is ensured also during the air show - in the air and on the ground.
Tähtinen warmly welcomes the visitors to follow the Midnight Hawks’ performance during the coming weekend.
– This season will be cut pretty short due to the existing conditions but I hope that in the next season we will be able to share the joy of aviation a bit more with the public. Now, let’s enjoy Kauhava Air Show 2020 in all of this!
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