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You are in: Norfolk » A Sense Of Place

05 July 2004 1916 BST
RAF Falcons wow Norfolk audiences
Picture: RAF Falcons jump from a Hercules above Norfolk Showground There's no turning back - RAF Falcons begin their descent to the Norfolk Showground.

The RAF Falcons turned heads skywards with their stunning parachute displays at the Royal Norfolk Show 2004.

videoWatch the descent (dial-up 56k)

videoWatch the descent (Broadband)


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bullet point. The team was originally formed in 1961 by six Parachute Jump Instructors from the No 1 Parachute Training School then based at RAF Abingdon.
bullet point.   In 1965 the team became the official RAF Parachute Display team and were called the Falcons, named after the bird of prey that 'falls extremely rapidly and is capable of aerobatics and swift stooping flight'.
bullet point.   Falcon team members have to qualify as military freefall instructors by the end of their three-year tour, during which they will each normally accumulate approximately 1000 jumps.
bullet point.   The Falcons regularly visit schools in the community and seek to enhance the profile of the Royal Air Force both in the UK and overseas.
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The RAF Falcons, the parachute display team of the Royal Air Force, wowed thousands of visitors at the Royal Norfolk Show 2004.

Nearly 100,000 people visited the annual agricultural show held at the Costessey showground.

During the two-day event, the Falcons made four jumps into the main arena from a height of around 10,000 feet.

Picture: Visitors at Royal Norfolk Show presenter the weather with Julie Reinger
Plumes of smoke form patterns in the air as the RAF Falcons drop towards the Norfolk Showground.

videoWatch the descent (dial-up 56k)

videoWatch the descent (Broadband)

Sergeant Stu Amory is enjoying his second year with the team.

"All the jumps were between 10,000 - 4000 feet," he said.

"I really mean it when I say the Royal Norfolk Show was the best show this year so far.

"The atmosphere was great, the showground is brilliant. It's just a really good atmosphere."

The RAF Falcons' displays are unique. The team's famous non-contact canopy stack is a dramatic aerial display which is enhanced by smoke trails from each parachutist.

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.

The Falcons are the only display team that jump from military aircraft using a Hercules C130K.

Stu Amory admits, it was looking touch and go for a time as to whether the team would be jumping:

Picture: Flight Lieutenant Mike Smith and Sergeant Stu Amory .
Flight Lieutenant Mike Smith and Sergeant Stu Amory make last minute checks before their jump.

"Initially we heard the weather forecast wasn't the best, so we weren't sure if we were going to do any of the jumps. Fortunately the weather did clear up enough for us to do it," he said.

The RAF Falcons have five jump routines to choose from, depending on the weather conditions.

The crowds at the Royal Norfolk Show were lucky enough to enjoy a spectacular high-dive display on both days.

After leaving the tailgate of the Hercules C130, the parachutists start to freefall towards the ground at speeds of 120mph, before deploying their parachutes at an agreed height.

For audiences at the Norfolk Showground, Sergeant Amory said it was the last jump of the show that was his favourite.

"The wind at the airfield was so windy, we thought we were going to miss closing the show… but when we left the aircraft for the final drop the feeling was just brilliant.

Picture: Sergeant Stu Amory (left) and Sergeant Steve Davies
Sergeant Stu Amory (left) and Sergeant Steve Davies sign autographs for fans of the Falcons.

"Being from Scotland, the pipers from RAF Halation Pipes & Drums playing on the landing zone really put me in my element," he added.

Stu Amory admits, being part of the RAF Falcons is much more than just a job:

"Parachuting is my job, but it's a hobby too and most people who have a hobby don't get thousands of people cheering them on.

"The audience support for us was just amazing. You get the applause and it feels brilliant- you just want to go again and again, which we do."

videoWatch the descent at Royal Norfolk Show (dial-up 56k)

videoWatch the descent at Royal Norfolk Show (Broadband)

Video footage courtesy of BBC East's Martin Giles and the RAF Falcons. To view video content you will require Realplayer. Follow the BBC guide to downloading this free plug-in.

RAF Falcons' wallpaper »

Royal Norfolk Show photos day 1 »

Royal Norfolk Show photos day 2 »


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