THE BLADES’ longest serving pilot has praised the organisation and set-up of this year’s Bournemouth Air Festival, saying it is his “favourite location to come to”.

Known across the world as one of the highest calibre display teams, the Blades are the only civilian team to perform at every Air Festival since its formation in 2008

Andy Evans, who flies Blade 1, has been flying with prestigious aerial display team for 15 years when the Blades Aerobatic Team was established.

He said: “It feels fantastic. This is one of the highlights of the year, probably my favourite show to come to.

“There is so much happening - it is over four days, you normally have enormous audiences, and the town is absolutely buzzing. It is a great place to come to for four days.

“The atmosphere is brilliant, you always have a really lovely fine programme, you have a lovely variety of things.”

The ever-popular display team are performing on each day of this year’s spectacle. Having taken to the skies twice already, the Blades will show of their aerobatic skills again on Saturday and Sunday in the late afternoon slot.

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All members of the Blade’s display team are former Red Arrow pilots with years of experience under their belt.

Although both display teams carry out similar manoeuvres, Andy says the differences between the Hawk T1 jets, used by the Red Arrows, and the Blades’ Extra 300 piston aircrafts is stark.

Andy added: “The big difference about flying the jets in formation and flying the pistons in formation is some handling issues with the different engines.

“Our engines are much quicker so in that way it is easier to station keep, but we don’t have the excess power that a Hawk does. So, when you go into big turns, you might run out of power.

“But the aircraft itself is very very different, it is highly manoeuvrable. I mean the Hawk is manoeuvrable, but it is nothing compared to an Extra.

“It is really manoeuvrable, and you can start doing some fun gyroscopic manoeuvres where you are using the torque of the engine to help rotate the aircraft.

“But that takes a while to learn how to do it. Even with lots of years on the aeroplane, I’m still learning all the time and I have still got plenty to learn, so it is a great experience.”

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Having retrained to fly different aircrafts during the Covid-19 pandemic and undertaken a month of retraining afterwards, Andy said it is nice to return to what he loves most - entertaining audiences at air shows.

He said: “As we have been coming back, we have been getting together with our title sponsors, Aerobytes. We had an event with them which worked out fantastically well, we have started to do some events again with the RF Benevolent Fund, who we support as well.

“We had a fantastic day yesterday; we flew one of our cadets and have been raising a lot of money for them. We did some formation with the Royal Chipmunk.

“It is very nice to get back to the core business, and certainly the RF Benevolent Fund who are very close to all of our hears.

“It is nice to be able to go out there and pass on the message about the help and assistance that they can give RAF members and their families, particularly how when an awful lot of them actually do need some help.”

However, for Andy, the return of the Bournemouth Air Festival is much welcomed follow a year’s hiatus.

“I am a bit bias, but I do think that Bournemouth is my favourite location to come to, he added.

“I think it is fantastic for people who come here for a few days as well because you can see the show from the beach or you can see the show from the top of the cliffs, and it gives it a different dynamic.

“The fact that you are 100 to 200 feet difference in height when you watch the show is great for audiences.”

The Blades are the only aerobatic airline to fly passengers in formation, on their unforgettable flying expoerience days.

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