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Taking off with the RAF Falcons
RAF Falcons team member
A member of the team prepares to jump
Last updated: 23 June 2004 1302 BST
lineThe RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team is world famous for its spectacular aerial displays. BBC Gloucestershire's David Bailey paid the team a flying visit...

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quoteSome of these guys have notched up around a thousand jumps. quote
David Bailey

I met up with the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team ahead of one of their many dramatic appearances, at Kemble Air Day.

There are ten team members - each expert parachutists - and based at RAF Brize Norton near Burford, close to the Gloucestershire border.

Photo Gallery
(Gallery 1: 17 pics)

Photo Gallery
(Gallery 2: 12 pics)

Hercules C130

Inside the cockpit

During my visit to their training headquarters I was lucky enough to hitch a ride in the huge Hercules C130 transporter plane, which the Falcons use, more often than not, to get airborne.

Sadly, on this occasion, the winds proved too high and unpredictable for the boys in red and blue to leap into open air, and descend rapidly to the ground in close formation.

That's a rarity, apparently. This was only the second time it's happened in the last couple of months.

Safety first

But safety comes first, even for these guys, some of whom have notched up around a thousand jumps.

So today they had to be content with returning to earth in the more conventional manner - inside an aeroplane.

Dream come true

I admit it was a bit of a disappointment not to witness the full-blown parachute display by the Falcons from above.

However getting the chance to fly in a Hercules C130 was a dream come true.

Often while I've been watching TV news reports from The Gulf I've watched the huge transporter planes chugging across the skies, and wondered what it's like inside.

RAF Falcons preparing to jump inside the C130

Well now I know.

It's how I imagine the cargo hold of a passenger jet would be - fairly sparse, and a bit drab; lots of grey metal and not a lot in the way of home comforts.

But it's totally functional, with room for almost a hundred troops to sit all along the sides facing inwards, or on the middle aisle facing out.

Smoke trails

When the Falcons do manage to get out of the plane the team's famous non-contact canopy stack is a dramatic aerial display which involves a split stack spiral.

It's enhanced by smoke trails from each parachutist.

Finally the display ends with the Team landing in quick succession one behind another into the drop zone which can be as small as 50 metres square.

So a no-show for the RAF Falcons on this occasion but there are plenty of other chances to see the team in action this summer.

Check out their website for a list of appearance dates.

Photo Gallery
(Gallery 1: 17 pics)

Photo Gallery
(Gallery 1: 17 pics)

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Check out the 2004 Features archive for past stories from the website

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