Welcome back to Waddington
This week for the team was all about RAF Waddington Air Show. The biggest RAF show in the calendar the line-up was truly impressive this year with international display teams including the Italian Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Freece Tricolori, the Korean Air Force’s Black Eagles, the Saudi Hawks and, of course, many Royal Air Force Display Team’s including the Red Arrows.
We have all displayed at Waddington many times before, both with The Blades and the Red Arrows, but it still gives us all a buzz to be displaying alongside teams such as the Black Eagles.
For us, Waddington Air Show weekend actually began on a Thursday when we flew up to the RAF station for the press day. Unfortunately, the weather immediately threw a spanner in the works.
The cloud base was fairly low meaning the team would have had to fly our flat or rolling display, however, shortly before our arrival into Waddington also saw the arrival of thunder and lightning.
This meant we were not able to refuel, handling a bowser full of flammable liquid during a serious thunderstorm is never advisable.
Without fuel we were unable to fly the display or take anyone on passenger flights which was extremely disappointing for all.
Over the weekend of the air show itself the weather brightened up considerably and we flew our full display on both days of the show.
As we were based at Waddington for the entire weekend we were also able to spend time on the ground meeting with the public.
We always enjoy the time we get to spend on the ground meeting people who have just watched the display. We are the only civilian team that flies a display of this kind as a four-ship and one of the questions that we are most often asked is whether we prefer flying a fast-jet like we flew with the Red Arrows or whether we prefer to fly the Extra 300 which we fly in The Blades.
The honest answer is that they are both so totally different it’s impossible to compare. There is nothing quite like flying a fast-jet in close formation, and our time in the Red Arrows pilots is something that we are all extremely proud of and it was a really special time in all our lives.
However, most of us would agree that flying with The Blades is some of the most challenging flying we have ever done.
The fact that the Extra has a propeller allows us to do some really unusual gyroscopic manoeuvres where we are literally throwing the back of the aircraft over the front. We are pulling minus 4g and up to 10g in the cockpit during the display, without the aid of a g-suit as well which definitely takes some getting used to.
No matter how many times we fly the display there are lessons to be learnt and tiny tweaks than we can make to make sure it is always as perfect as possible, luckily the amount of shows that we have throughout the display season gives us plenty of time to do that.