The Brazilian Air Force’s Smoke Squadron Resumes Enthralling Crowds

The Brazilian Air Force’s Smoke Squadron Resumes Enthralling Crowds

By Dialogo
September 14, 2015

I like it. Very cool. Very cool! GOOD AFTERNOON. THE SMOKE SQUADRON (EDA), AN AIR SHOW SQUADRON, HAS CONQUERED THE HEARTS OF BRAZILIANS AND THE WORLD. SUPER TUCANO JETS ARE THE ATTRACTION NOW. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE ENTIRE EDA BRAZIL TEAM. HUNGER IN BRAZIL. THE EDA RUNS A FOOD CAMPAIGN FOR EVERY SHOW. This is very cool. Congratulations to all... No longer interested in the background of these artefacts, when they are mere remedies from weak sources. There is still a lot of fragility and confusion around these products. I only want to thank you for the report. I want to congratulate the entire Armed Forces of Brazil for their professional values.

A beloved squadron of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, for its Portuguese acronym) is once again leaving trails of white smoke across the country’s blue skies.

After a 27-month hiatus from public presentations, the FAB’s Air Show Squadron – popularly known as the Smoke Squadron – resumed its touring schedule in July.

On July 11 and 12, during the 18th International Aviation Exhibition in Maringá, Paraná state, Brazil, the squadron’s two performances drew about 10,000 spectators – and then a crowd of more than 90,000 attended the team’s show during the Air Sunday event at the Air Force Academy (AFA), which is known as the “Eagles Nest,” in Pirassununga, in São Paulo state.

“People’s admiration is clear after the air shows,” Lt. Col. Marcelo Gobett Cardoso, commander of the Air Show Squadron, said. “As soon as we leave the aircraft, we can feel the affection of the audience as they await us with smiles and applause.”

Smoke Squadron receives more powerful aircraft

The Smoke Squadron's hiatus began in March 2013 after it received a fleet of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, replacing the Tucano T-27 it had used for 30 years. That change demanded significant training for the unit, which had to adapt to modern aircraft that is twice as powerful, flies faster and higher, and has a much greater flight range than the squad's older airplanes.

Manufactured by Brazilian aerospace company Embraer, the Super Tucano is a turboprop light attack aircraft designed for air defense missions, escort, combat air patrol, and for training top fighter pilots. The aircraft has been modified for the air shows, for example through the installation of smoke oil tanks on the wings where the ammunition cartridges would normally be located. Even the oil has been improved to produce environmentally friendly smoke that neither harms the ozone layer nor contributes to global warming. The new oil also produces denser smoke that remains in the air for a longer period of time, enabling letters and symbols to be seen from a height of approximately 10,000 feet, or roughly 3,000 meters.

Additionally, the FAB also modernized the appearance of the Squadron’s planes; the colors of the Brazilian flag – green, yellow, blue, and white – are still featured, but in stronger, flashier tones to accentuate the viewing of the planes’ maneuvers. Another innovation is the design of the Brazilian flag on the plane’s tail: When the rudder moves, it appears that the flag is fluttering in the wind.

Seven pilots in seven numbered planes carry out the 35-minute show, with the squadron’s leader, Lt. Col. Gobett, in plane No. 1, guiding the actions of the entire team and calling out when the maneuvers will be executed. Each flight position – Right Wing (2), Left Wing (3), Bolt (4), Outer Left Wing (5) and Outer Right Wing (6) – plays a specific role. The maneuvers can be carried out by each of the seven planes, or by four, three, or even one plane, known as the Isolated (7) plane. An eighth pilot remains on the ground and serves as the announcer for the show, which features about 50 stunts, and a support plane can used to transport equipment and material.

Promoting the FAB's image

The Smoke Squadron’s primary mission is to promote the FAB’s institutional image, which it accomplishes through performances that are so popular and fascinating they influence many young people’s future.

“From children to senior citizens, everyone wants to come up to us, talk to us, take pictures, and show their admiration for the Brazilian Air Force,” Lt. Col. Gobett said. “It’s very rewarding for the whole team. And many are so filled with admiration that soon they become interested in pursuing a military career. This is the best opportunity we have to deliver our institutional material and interact with the public. We also see that we are clearly fulfilling one of our main responsibilities, which is to stimulate and develop an aeronautical vocation and mentality.”

The Air Show Squadron has been promoting the FAB and entertaining spectators since 1952, when it officially performed for the first time. Since its inception, the unit has carried out 3,700 air shows in Brazil and 21 other countries; it is the world’s second-oldest Air Show Squadron, second only to the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, which was founded in 1946.

The pilots of the Smoke Squadron – known as the Fumaceiros
– are aviation aces whose stunts excite and thrill audiences of all ages; the planes fly upside down, do somersaults and pirouettes, and dive and roll in the sky. All the stunts are very well received by the audience, but the crowd favorites are the Lancevaque
and Chumbóide,
where the Super Tucano rises vertically and suddenly begins to fall in a spiral, nose first.

“The audience has the impression that the aircraft is out of control, but the pilot has full control over the aircraft and can return to normal flight at any time,” Lt. Col. Gobett explained.

When they land, the pilots are treated like celebrities by the audience.

“They deliver the Smoke Squadron’s institutional material, give autographs, and take pictures with fans,” the Air Show Squadron Public Relations Office added.

Though fans never have to pay to see the shows, the Smoke Squadron suggests that the public donate non-perishable food items instead, which are then distributed to charities. At the first event marking the return of Smoke Squadron, for instance, 2.5 tons of food were collected in Paraná.

Skilled pilots

The pilots who promote the FAB’s image have undergone intensive training, as stunt pilots are FAB aviation officers with 1,500 hours of flight time, including 800 as an instructor at the AFA or the Joker Squadron (Second Squadron of the Fifth Aviation Group - 2º/5º GAV - bomber pilot trainer). They're chosen by the Air Show Squadron’s Operational Council, which selects the most qualified candidates whose profiles are most compatible with the Smoke Squadron’s mission.

After joining the team, pilots begin training to fly in their specific positions, engaging in about 80, one-hour missions over the course of two to three months; they also continue to conduct regular training after their debut. Typically, the Smoke Squadron is made up by 13 Aviation officers, an aviation specialist, a doctor, three public relations officers, and a team of administrative and aircraft maintenance experts - affectionately known as the "Guardian Angels". Additional Soldiers complete the team, assisting with their daily routine.

Their performance schedule, meanwhile, is set by the Air Force Public Relations Center (CECOMSAER) establishes the show schedule, which takes requests for shows at least four months in advance.

“They analyze a variety of factors, including the domestic/international importance of the event, the infrastructure on site and the estimated audience during the show, among other requirements,” the Air Show Squadron Public Relations Office stated, referring to CECOMSAER.