In 2016 the RNZAF’s Flying Training Wing was tasked with re-forming the RNZAF aerobatic team using the newly introduced pilot training aircraft, the T-6C Texan II. Wg Cdr Clayton, at that time a Squadron Leader and the Officer Commanding Central Flying School, was delegated the task of building the team. The first public display of the Black Falcons was to be at the Wings-over-Wanaka airshow in February 2017 and the team was also to be the key attraction for the RNZAF 80th Anniversary Air Tatoo later the same month.
The creation of the Black Falcons display team involved numerous challenges. RNZAF formation aerobatics had been in hiatus since the the cessation of the famous Red Checkers team in 2013. Skills and currency had atrophied over this time. The new team had to adapt to the greater performance of the T-6C and they had to create an entirely new flying management system almost from scratch. Updated standard operating procedures, display work-up plans, risk management plans, mission risk profiles and display orders were all required to meet contemporary needs of RNZAF airworthiness standards and the new aircraft type. Furthermore, the team build-up in late 2016 had to be balanced against flying training priorities for the initial T-6C QFI course and to keep the first ab initio pilot training course on schedule. Sqn Ldr Clayton exhibited commendable judgement in harmonising the safe and effective progression of the display team with the aircraft and personnel resources available to him.
Sqn Ldr Brett Clayton was appointed leader of the Black Falcons with no previous formation aerobatics display experience. His selection to lead the team was supported by his widely recognised good judgement, temperament and professionalism as a military aviator. Rather than leverage legacy Red Checkers procedures he elected to take a fresh approach and benchmark the Black Falcons against world’s best practice. His philosophy was to adopt the techniques and procedures proven by elite teams like the RAAF Roulettes and the RAF Red Arrows but within the limits of the RNZAF resources.
Thanks to Sqn Ldr Clayton’s tenacity and commitment the re-formed display team was highly successful and it featured as a highlight of the RNZAF 80th anniversary Air Tattoo as well as in nunerous airshows around New Zealand since. Under his leadership the display team became a new symbol of RNZAF aviation skills and professionalism.
Brett Clayton has since been promoted to Wing Commander.
His selfless devotion to duty, leadership and outstanding contribution to RNZAF display flying when leading the re-formation of the RNZAF display team “The Black Falcons” point him out as a worthy recipient of the Master’s Trophy for the New Zealand Region for 2018.
2018 Wing Commander Brett Clayton RNZAF
2017 Not Awarded
2016 5 Sqn RNZAF Maintenance Flight
2015 Lewis James Day MNZM DFC
2014 Edwin Dale Webb
2013 Rev Dr Richard James Waugh QSM
2012 James Hugh Wilson
2011 Dr David Powell MBChB DAvmed DOccMed
2010 Captain Trevor Thomas Bland MNZM AFC
2009 Captain Gregory John Fallow