The Blades are a civilian aerobatic team based at Sywell Aerodrome in the UK, consisting of former members of the RAF Red Arrows. The team made their debut in 2006, flying four Extra 300Ls or three Extra 300Ls and an Extra 330SC. Today, they are the UK’s most prolific and best-known civilian aerobatic team, and they have occasionally performed further afield, including winning the Formation Aerobatic Championships in China in 2017. The Blades also take paying passengers on experience flights and have trained pilots from Malaysia’s national aerobatic team, Krisakti.
The Blades announced their intention to “go global” in 2019, with plans to spend the “off-season” travelling to locations outside Europe, offering air displays and experience flights. In October and November 2019, they headed to the UAE to offer flights and participate in the Dubai Airshow. They also planned to transition to the GameBird GB1 for the 2020 airshow season along with the Halcones, but unlike their Chilean counterparts, they continue to use the Extra 300 as of March 2021.
In addition to aerobatic duties, The Blades field a racing team that competed in the Red Bull Air Race in 2018 and 2019, and is due to take part in the World Championship Air Race from 2022. Their race pilot is Ben Murphy and their aircraft is a highly-modified Edge 540.
The Blades’ display is a constant mix of formation, synchronised and solo aerobatics. The Blades specialise in synchronised stall turns and pushovers. Manoeuvres include:
- Falling Angels (four-ship split through stall turns and pushovers)
- Blades Break (four-ship opposition break)
- Spitfire Roll (four aircraft pitch up and roll individually)
- Crazy (three-ship formation with varying yaw while solo plane barrel rolls around)
- Hammerhead (four-ship stall turns)
- Vertical Break (four-ship downwards bomb burst)
- Beak-to-Beak Cross (two-ship opposition stall turns)
- Mirror Stall Split (two-ship stall turns in mirror formation)
- Double Knife Edge Dive (two-ship synchronised tumbles)
- Goose and Gatling (three vs. one opposition pass, then two barrel roll around remaining aircraft)