BAe Hawks slice, low level through the Welsh valley skies
as they 'Bug Out'
and prepare to re-attack 4 similar aircraft following a succesful
Currently just over Beddgelert Forest in the Caernarfon valley,
the two aircraft are about to turn left and head for the A-5
pass in Snowdonia.
of the first flight of the Hawk on 21 August 1974 was greeted
with derision by Hunter Pilots at the RAF's tactical weapons
For understandably selfish reasons they were sceptical about
of the Hawk to replace the rugged, versatile and much loved
HAWK - FLY HUNTER"
was one typical bumper sticker at the time but now 25 years
on, such scepticism seems barely credible. With the arrival
of the first Hawk aircraft at RAF Valley in November 1976,
a new era of RAF flying training began, and the first of thousands
of fast-jet Pilots discovered the joys of flying this truly
then, the BAe Hawk has earned the reputation as the World's
best advanced trainer and light strike aircraft. The basic
design has been refined and improved in a series of variants
ranging from multi-role light fighter to the US Navy's carrier
trainer. But the one quality that sets the Hawk apart from
other aircraft is handling characteristics.
In the artist's own words, - "I had flown the Gnat and
the Hunter and in 1979 had just finished fling Canberra PR9's
before transferring to the Jaguar, when I was given the opportunity
to get some flying on the Hawk. It was a revelation. Here
was an aircraft that was pure joy to fly. At low level it
settled comfortably at 450 knots at around 150 feet and it
could be flown into the valleys under the most frightening
weather safe in the knowledge that it could be turned around
without losing airspeed almost in its own length. And at medium
level?, 1 v 1 combat in this aircraft is something else, -
compared with the Hawk, the Jaguar is like flying an anvil".
outstanding handling and agility of the Hawk made it a joy
to fly in any situation, but for most Hawk Pilots nothing
compares with the "knife fight in a telephone box" excitement
of Hawk versus Hawk low-level tactical evasion training in
the mountainous terrain as portrayed in HAWK COUNTRY. Set
over the A4085 road by Beddgelert Forest in the Caernarfon
Pass, North Wales, two grey-painted Hawks pursued by a 'bounce'
fly out of the picture in a left hand turn heading for the
Capel Curig and the A5 Nant Ffrancon/Ogwen Pass, whilst three
other Hawks, resplendent in the RAF's new gloss black paint
scheme turn hard against the towering backdrop of cloud-capped
is Michael Rondot at his very best. High speed, low-level
dogfighting, superb detail and technical accuracy in a brilliant
print of "been there, done that", action.