The Royal Navy’s Black Cats helicopter display team are set to wow millions of spectators this summer. Following months of training, the team was formally awarded its Public Display Authority (PDA), the final assessment that authorises the team to begin their season.
The pair of Wildcats will appear at more than 30 displays in the UK and abroad this year. Team leader and pilot of Black 1, Lieutenant Commander David Lilly, said: “Public Display Authority is a very important day in the Black Cats’ calendar as it signifies the end of many months of training. The purpose of the team is to exhibit to the public the new Wildcat helicopter, capture their imagination and show off in the finest traditions of the Fleet Air Arm. It is an opportunity for some capabilities of the Royal Navy to be seen by millions of people and demonstrate the aircraft’s frontline capability.”
PDA is only awarded when the senior officer, in this instance the Royal Navy’s head of the Fleet Air Arm, Rear Admiral Keith Blount is satisfied of the highest safety standards. Rear Admiral Blount scrutinised all aspects of the team both on the ground and in the air and witnessed all three displays to be used throughout this season.
Although this will be the fourth season for experienced Black Cats pilot Lt Cdr Lilly, it is the first for the pilot of Black 2, Lieutenant Chris Rebbeck, who said: “When I joined the Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force, I always appreciated the way the Black Cats handled the aircraft. Having now gone through the rigorous training process, I understand why they are regarded as one of the best display teams in the UK and I am proud to carry that tradition forward.”
Both Black Cats pilots are Qualified Helicopter Instructors with 825 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton and, before joining the team, operated the venerable Lynx Mk8 from Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers.
Lt Cdr Lilly added: “I am looking forward to entertaining the public and being able to represent the outstanding work that continues by 825 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm and Royal Navy around the World.”
The Black Cats will be performing on Armed Forces Day events in Cleethorpes, Blackpool and Plymouth over the weekend of June 25-26; RNAS Yeovilton’s air day on July 2, RNAS Culdrose’s air day on July 28 and in the Netherlands on June 10-11 as well as in Jersey and Guernsey on September 8.
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