Falcons News

Big 60th Anniversary for Royal Air Force Falcons

The RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team have launched a thrilling new display to mark their 60th Anniversary this year.

The 2021 RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team pictured at their home of RAF Brize Norton in front of a C-17 Globemaster
The 2021 RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team pictured at their home of RAF Brize Norton in front of a C-17 Globemaster.

The new display routine really captivates the military precision and skill of the RAF Falcons, as each intricate element has a different style of flying and canopy control skills. Demonstrating their unique and advanced parachuting capability, the Falcons aim to enthral thousands of spectators during their ‘Big 60th year’.

The complex routine is split into several segments, starting with a ‘snake’ formation with one canopy behind the other, which allows the Team to start the ‘split’ and ‘crossover’ elements of the display. They split into two sections before turning and heading straight towards each other with a closing speed of around 45mph. As the Falcons crossover with a few feet of separation they immediately initiate a turn into the ‘carousel’, named after the fairground ride which is as much fun to fly as it looks. Finally, the Team start the ‘sabre chase’ continuing the fairground theme, this dynamic flying is like a roller coaster ride led by the Team Coach, Flight Sergeant James Bruce.

The RAF Falcons practising their new display routine in Oxfordshire, during their UK winter training.
The RAF Falcons practising their new display routine in Oxfordshire, during their UK winter training.

“For the 2021 season we decided to change the display format in recognition of our 60th Anniversary and to demonstrate the ever-changing skill sets required for military parachuting.  This dynamic routine showcases what can be accomplished when we work as a team and trust that each member will pilot their canopy with the precision the RAF Falcons are famous for.”

Flight Sergeant James Bruce
Team Coach

The Team was originally formed in 1961 by six instructors from the Parachute Training School formally based at RAF Abingdon.  It is thought the Team were nicknamed ‘The Big 6’ as most of the members were shorter than 5ft 6in, however, in fact it was due to them experimenting with tailgate exits out of the aircraft with all six members at once. Their experiments didn’t stop there, as they used talcum powder to leave white trails before using smoke canisters, which are still used in today’s displays.

The RAF Falcons demonstrating the carousel element of their new display routine
The RAF Falcons demonstrating the carousel element of their new display routine.

The Big 6 made their debut display at Farnborough Air show in 1961 and over the years became so popular that in 1965 the Team increased in size to twelve parachutists. It was also in 1965 that the Team were given their name of the ‘RAF Falcons’, taking the name from a bird of prey which represented their displays; swift, swooping, elegant and aerobatic in flight, all still prominent to this day.

Members of the ‘Big 6’ pictured exiting the aircraft.
Members of the ‘Big 6’ pictured exiting the aircraft.

“I am extremely excited to be able to showcase our new 60th Anniversary display format for 2021. I am really proud of all those team members and support staff that have spent an enormous amount of time and effort orchestrating this fantastic new display, to be able to provide you with an additional spectacle this summer. The famous canopy stack formation we have been performing since the 1970s will continue to be displayed by us, but we now also have the 60th Anniversary display that can be performed in addition or instead of the canopy stack this season. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as the Team have enjoyed training for it.”

Flight Lieutenant Chris Wilce
Officer Commanding RAF Falcons

 

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