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Published: 17 May 2016

THE Black Cats are set to Wow millions of people in 2016 after the Navy’s helicopter display team is given formal approval to show this year.

Following months of training, the Royal Navy’s Premier Helicopter Display Team was formally awarded its Public Display Authority (PDA) by Rear Admiral Keith Blount on Friday 13, lucky for Black Cats!

The PDA is the final assessment, authorising the Black Cats to begin their 2016 season when the team showcase the excellence of the Fleet Air Arm. The Wildcat helicopter duo embarks on the 15th display Black Cats season – performing across the country and overseas.

Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) David Lilly, Team Leader and Black 1 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 team reflect on the efforts of the whole Squadron in accomplishing the accolade of being ready to display for the UK and European public.

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 aircrafts frontline capability when protecting our Nation’s interests.”

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. The team must have a display worthy of the Royal Navy Service and an agility to captivate spectators. Rear Admiral Blount scrutinised all aspects of the team both on the ground and in the air and witnessed all 3 displays to be used throughout this season.

Although this will be the 4th season for experienced Black Cats pilot Lt Cdr Lilly it is the first for Black 2, Lieutenant (Lt) Chris Rebbeck, and a role he is relishing. Lt Rebbeck 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 (QHI’s) with 825 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) and before joining the team operated the venerable Lynx Mk8 from Type 23 Frigates and Type 45 Destroyers around the world, to protect the UK 24/7, 365 days a year.

Lieutenant Commander David Lilly said:

“Despite being my 4th year on the team, 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 2016 team’s first major public show is on Thursday 19 May 2016 at the first Wings parade for Wildcat aircrew. This is one of 30 displays planned this year, look out for them at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton Air Day, 2 July 2016!


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