The Blades (aerobatic team)

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Two planes during a show at the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival
Four planes in formation
The old orange and black livery

The Blades are a British civilian aerobatic team based at the Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire.[1] They have been described as "the world's only aerobatic airline" and are the only full-time civilian aerobatic team in the United Kingdom.[2][3] The Blades are a subsidiary of 2Excel Aviation.[2]

The team was founded in 2005 by Andy Offer, a former leader of the Red Arrows,[1] and Chris Norton, a Royal Air Force wing commander.[4][5] 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.[6]

The team fly four Extra 300LPs and an Extra 330SC, the latter being used for solo sections of the performances.[7] 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.[8] 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.[3][8] They hold the world record for formation looping having completed 26 consecutive loops,[9][10] 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.[6][11]

Alongside their aerobatic displays and commercial work, The Blades also help the Royal Air Forces Association, a charity that supports RAF service personnel.[6]

The Blades have been featured in the Yorkshire Tea adverts since 2013.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Display Teams - The Blades". Military Airshows in the UK. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  2. ^ a b "The Blades Aerobatic Team and 2Excel Aviation" (PDF). Royal Aeronautical Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b "The Blades aerobatic team bring daredevil displayFalmouth" (PDF). Falmouth Harbour Commissioners. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  4. ^ "The Blades". Belton House. Archived from the original on 27 May 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  5. ^ Fitzpatrick, Sarah (19 August 2010). "Aerobatic excitement with The Blades". The Field. IPC Media Ltd. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "Blind man in aerobatic world record". MSN News. Microsoft. 20 October 2011. Archived from the original on 22 October 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Aircraft". 2 Excel Aviation. Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  8. ^ a b "The Blades cut a dash for Dartmouth!". The Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  9. ^ "About". 2 Excel Aviation. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  10. ^ "World Record Holders The Blades Book a Four Day Visit to Airbourne". Eastbourne Borough Council. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  11. ^ Cooper, Rob (21 October 2011). "Blind daredevil wins world air title... and now wants to be crowned land and water speed king". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 28 August 2012.