Day 5 of our Portrush aircraft profile is the Blades Aerobatic team
The Blades Aerobatic Display Team is a full-time civilian display team. It is the only display team in the world that, in addition to flying air displays, also acts as an airline taking passengers on close formation aerobatic flights for unforgettable flying experiences.
The team is based at the Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire and were founded in 2005 by Andy Offer, a former leader of the Red Arrows, and Chris Norton, a Royal Air Force wing commander. There are eight pilots including five full-time display performers. All of the pilots are former members of the Royal Air Force and the aerobatic team all flew with the Red Arrows.
The team fly four Extra 300LPs and an Extra 330SC, the latter being used for solo sections of the performances. These two-seated propeller aircraft are used for four plane displays as well as corporate flying events during which passengers can be carried on board. The aircraft were originally painted orange and black but later changed to light blue and black. By 2013 they had reverted to the orange and black colour scheme.
The Blades made their debut performance in 2006 at a party held by David Beckham prior to the World Cup. Since then they have performed as part of the 80th birthday celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle, and at the Bahrain Grand Prix and Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.
They hold the world record for formation looping having completed 26 consecutive loops, with blind bank manager Mike Newman taking control for the beginning of the stunt before co-pilot Myles Garland resumed control for the other loops.
Alongside their aerobatic displays and commercial work, The Blades also help the Royal Air Forces Association, a charity that supports RAF service personnel.
Check back tomorrow for another aircraft profile in the lead up to Airwaves Portrush. Information from Blades website and Wikipedia. Photograph from Wikipedia.