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Since the first aerial pageant at Hendon in 1920, formation aerobatics have been held in high regard by the Royal Air Force. In the barnstorming days before the Second World War no air display would be complete without the sight of two or more biplanes flying in close proximity, often tied together. With the dawn of the jet age, piston engine aircraft were replaced by the faster and more dramatic of the new front-line jet fighters.
The first RAF jet team was formed in 1947 and consisted of three Vampires from the Odiham Wing in Hampshire. By 1950 72 Squadron was flying a team of seven Vampires and 54 Squadron, with their five aircraft, were the first to use smoke. This was achieved by injecting diesel into the jet pipe where the high temperature turned it to white smoke. Rivalry between the RAF fighter squadrons was high and it became the trend for each to form its own team. When 54 Squadron re-equipped with the Hawker Hunter in 1955 they put together a four ship team know as the Black Knights.
In 1956, 111 Squadron (Tremblers or Treble One) became the official RAF display team with their five gloss black Hunters. After displaying in France they were applauded as Les Fleches Noires and they soon became know throughout the Continent as the Black Arrows.
Two of those original aircraft remained in service until 1995, being used for groundcrew training at RAF Scampton. The RAF sold one to The Royal Jordanian Historic Aircraft Flight and the other to a private buyer in South Africa. In 1957 The Black Arrows were increased to nine aircraft.  These were supplemented in 1958 by an additional 13 aircraft from other squadrons in order to perform a 22 aircraft loop and barrel roll at the Farnborough Air Show. This is the greatest number of  aircraft ever looped in formation and remains a world record to this day.

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