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Air Force's Black Falcons to salute areas hard-hit by Gabrielle

Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay, areas hit hard by Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle in February, are to receive special visits from the Black Falcons, the Royal New Zealand Air Force aerobatic team.

11 April, 2023

The two displays are additional to the Black Falcons scheduled season for 2023.

Tairāwhiti’s day is Friday 14 April, with the Black Falcons scheduled to perform over Gisborne at 12.30pm. On Saturday 15 April the team will deliver a display over Napier, also planned for 12.30pm.

The best vantage point in Gisborne will be the central city foreshore (centred on Churchill Park) or from Kaiti Hill; and in Napier, from Marine Parade (the Soundshell) or Bluff Hill.

Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Stu Anderson, head of the Black Falcons, said the team was delighted to be delivering special performances for audiences who have endured so much as a result of the enormous damage caused by the cyclone.

“Hundreds of our Defence Force colleagues have been able to help Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay communities deal with the devastation caused by Gabrielle, and it’s now our privilege to bring our display into their skies, as a tribute to them, especially those who have suffered painful losses.

“The hard and exhausting recovery is ongoing for them, and we hope that they will be able to take a break and enjoy these displays,” he said.

The Ohakea-based Black Falcons team members are all instructors with the Central Flying School, who are responsible for training flying instructors and maintaining flying instructional standards across the Air Force, or with No. 14 Squadron, who train all new pilots to the RNZAF.

There are eight team members in the RNZAF Black Falcons; six pilots, a team manager and a team support officer. 

Black Falcons displays are dependent on suitable weather conditions.

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From left to right: SQNLDR Anthony Rose, SQNLDR Stuart Anderson, FLTLT Edward Drane, SQNLDR Paul Stockley, FLTLT AJ Quinn and SQNLDR Hamish Reichardt.