Saturday, March 28, 2015

Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Black Knights practice Missing Man formation; part of SAF tribute to LKY

Aerial salute: RSAF Black Knights practice the Missing Man formation over the Padang, a day ahead of the State Funeral procession for Singapore's first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Tomorrow afternoon (Sunday 29 March 2015), as Singapore lays its first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, to rest, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will pay a final tribute to our founding father.

As the State Funeral Procession with Mr Lee's body files past the steps of City Hall for the last time, four Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-16C Fighting Falcons will fly a Missing Man formation over the Padang. The warplanes are part of the six-aircraft RSAF Black Knights precision aerial display team.

This afternoon at around 13:02H, the Black Knights quartet thundered over the city LKY and the Pioneer Generation of Singaporeans built. The RSAF warplanes came in roughly on a heading of 303 degrees, height 1,500 feet, trailing white smoke and made everyone at the Padang look skyward as the sound of freedom echoed throughout the city centre.

It was a rehearsal for Sunday's State Funeral. But the sight was still a poignant one to the thousands of people who stood their ground amid a light tropical shower, patiently waiting their turn to bid a personal farewell to Mr Lee.

Tomorrow will mark the second time the Black Knights will fly a Missing Man formation. The manoeuvre entails aircraft flying in loose Finger-four formation, with one pulling up in a steep climb leaving the formation with a missing man.

This aerial salute is deeply symbolic to aviators. The Missing Man formation has been passed down through aviation history as the highest mark of respect for a lost comrade and is traditionally flown during funerals or memorial services.

We last saw the manoeuvre performed by the Black Knights during the Singapore Airshow in 2008. In that year, the RSAF gave an aerial salute to one of its combat pilots, the late Lieutenant Colonel Casey "Mongol" Tan, who had died of cancer.

I am grateful to MINDEF/SAF, particularly Chief of Air Force, Major-General Hoo Cher Mou, and the Air Staff, for working hard behind the scenes to include the Missing Man formation as part of White Star. Thank you for so kindly giving due consideration to public feedback and the community's wish for giving Mr Lee a dignified send off.

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