The Midnight Hawks on the Ground and in the Air
The Midnight Hawks display team is made up of around a dozen professional Air Force members. Who are they and what are their duties in the team?
Midnight Hawks' display team for the season 2016. Left to right: Henri Vormisto, Heikki Kankio, Marc Fuss and Tapani Parvio.
The most prominent team members are the four display pilots in four Hawks bearing tail numbers 1 to 4.
Team pilots are selected by the Commander of the Training Air Wing. All qualified Hawk flight instructors on the Wing's payroll are eligible to an application process arranged at regular intervals. In addition to willingness to join the team, an applicant must have a minimum of 1,000 hours on jets.
A pilot’s tour with the Midnight Hawks typically lasts at least two seasons. A newly selected member spends the first season in position #7 to get to know how the team works and gear up for formation display flying. He does not fly in displays, however.
In due course he joins the display composition and is assigned position #2, #3, or #4 depending on his experience. Only position #1 is earmarked and will always be held by the team leader, who is a Midnight Hawks veteran with several years of flying with the team behind him.
The numbers determine the actual position of each pilot in a display formation. Numbered team members also have other responsibilities varying from managing public relations to selecting suitable music for a display.
Apart from the five flying team members, the Midnight Hawks’ strength includes a sixth pilot. He has lots of Hawk time under his belt and holds the supervisor's position designated #0. His main tasks are to ensure flight safety and try to come up with new ways to make display routines look even better. When a display is in full swing, one can spot #0 near the airfield perimeter, talking into a radio giving instructions to the team leader.
Team pilots are also supported by Midnight Hawk #10; he is the Senior Engineering Officer and leads a team of technicians who ensure that all four display aircraft and one spare remain well maintained and serviceable during displays. The six-member support team has no permanent composition and its members come from the Training Air Wing's pool of aircraft maintainers.
Go to the menu on the left to get to know the team members for the 2016 season.