The Blades of Sywell report for duty

The Blades conduct an impromptu display over the top of the Fleet flagship HMS Bulwark
The Blades conduct an impromptu display over the top of the Fleet flagship HMS Bulwark
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The team performed a flying welcome to Royal Navy personnel aboard HMS Bulwark as the ship arrived for Olympic security duties off the Dorset coast this week.

HMS Bulwark is currently tasked as Command and Control Ship supporting the Dorset Police to deliver maritime security to provide a safe and secure venue for the London 2012 Olympic Sailing venue in Weymouth and Portland.

The ship was arriving in Dorset ahead of the start of the Games this weekend when we flew in to display for the ship’s company who watched the full 15-minute show from the port side of the ship.

Against a backdrop of perfect blue sky and a sea that looked like glass we entertained the people embarked on the Fleet Flagship with our aerobatic routine.

It was an absolutely stunning display to fly and looking down on to the ship and the sea made a truly unforgettable flight.

The display over HMS Bulwark was the team’s final display of the week and followed a busy few days flying first at Rhyl Air Show and then on to Bray Air Festival before transiting to Weston-super-Mare for the Grand Pier Air Display.

The official charity of Rhyl Air Show was the Royal Air Forces Association’s Wings Appeal, The Blades’ charity partner, so the team put on their display to fly the Wings Appeal flag from the air.

After a quick re-smoke and re-fuel the team set off to transit to Bray Air Festival in Northern Ireland before heading to Weston in the evening to prepare for the display there the next morning.

Following our display at Bray there was cause for celebration as this meant both Myles and Andy, Blades 3 and 4, each achieved 1,500 flying hours in the Extra 300 LP, the aircraft flown by the team.

It takes a lot of time to build up the hours in the aircraft as most of the sorties are made up of 30-minute practice slots, 25-minute passenger flights or the 15-minute display so it was a fantastic milestone for the guys to have reached.

Both Myles and Andy are founding team members of The Blades and now have more than 5,000 and 6,000 flying hours respectively across a range of aircraft, including the Jet Provost, the Harrier, Jaguar, Hawk and, of course, the Extra.

We didn’t celebrate too much as we were back flying again the next morning and it was on one of the hottest days of the year so far that we took to the cockpit to display over the Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare.

The temperature in the cockpit was uncomfortable to say the least but the flying conditions were absolutely perfect and as usual we had a great time flying the display.

It was a busy few days for us all with a lot of transiting between shows but the weather was perfect which made a refreshing change.

The highlight of the week without a doubt had to be the display above HMS Bulwark, just absolutely brilliant!