Sunderland AFC, whose nickname is the Black Cats, will sponsor their namesake Black Cats Helicopter Display team at the Sunderland International Airshow 2016.
The display team, made up of volunteers from the Royal Navy’s 825 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) and the Lynx Wildcat Maritime Force, have been wowing audiences around the world with their award-winning, dynamic displays since 2001.
This summer they will be flying their Wildcat helicopters in the Sunderland International Airshow on July 23 and 24, when they will be sponsored exclusively by SAFC and its SoL leisure brand.
The four-man squad, usually based at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, Somerset, will be staying at SoL’s Hilton Garden Inn hotel throughout the weekend and will utilise Sunderland AFC’s Academy of Light training headquarters for take-off and landing.
“The Black Cats Helicopter Display team was named after the fierce cat depicted on the emblem of the now disbanded 702 Naval Air Squadron and also pays tribute to the naval slang term of blackcatting, which means doing or owning something better than someone else,” said Lt Cdr Dave Lilly.
“While we have no specific football affiliations we are more than happy to share our name with the Black Cats of Sunderland and look forward to taking to the skies over the North East in July with sponsorship from SAFC and SoL”
SoL, which encompasses the Stadium of Light, catering subsidiary 1879 Events Management and now includes the Hilton Garden Inn, Sunderland, was launched in February 2016 to highlight Sunderland AFC's provision of a complete event solution.
As well as sponsoring the Black Cats Helicopter Display Team, the brand will also be offering a wide range of hospitality services at the Sunderland International Airshow 2016.
This includes a world food and drink village, family zone with street food, games and interactive arcades and a range of VIP packages offering prime viewing areas and enhanced catering.
Prices range from £35 per person for the Take Off Marquee Package to £125 per person for the Platinum Package, including a Champagne and canapés reception, four-course British grand buffet, live music, access to a private gin bar and Pimms van, a host on site to add to the party atmosphere and use of an exclusive private viewing area in Cliffe Park.
Gary Hutchinson, Commercial Director for SAFC and 1879 Events Management, said: “Sunderland International Airshow is one of the biggest events on the North East calendar and we are delighted to be so closely involved this year, not just in catering for the tens of thousands of visitors expected to attend, but also in supporting the Black Cats Helicopter Display Team too. It’s going to be an amazing weekend.”