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Tue, Jan 24, 2023

Blades Aerobatic Team to Cease Operations

With Heavy Hearts …

Founded in 2005 as a subsidiary of 2Excel Aviation—a U.K. provider of aerospace services to government, defense, petroleum, and airline customers—the Blades Aerobatic Team, for 17-years, was the only full-time civilian aerobatic team in the United Kingdom.

The Blades team comprised eight pilots, including five full-time display performers, all of whom formerly served in the British Royal Air Force as members of the storied Red Arrows Aerobatic Team. The Blades flew four Extra 300LPs and an Extra 330SC, the latter aircraft featuring in solo facets of the team’s performances. In addition to four-plane displays, the two-seat 300LPs were used to carry passengers at corporate flying events staged by 2Excel.

The Blades made their debut performance in 2006 at a FIFA World Cup party hosted by soccer superstar David Beckham. In the years since, the team has performed at high-profile events such as the 80th birthday celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle, the Bahrain Grand Prix, and the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. Among their aeronautical distinctions, the Blades team holds the world record for formation looping, having completed a dizzying and difficult 26 consecutive loops.

The Blades’s aerobatic displays and commercial promotional work was complemented by the team’s support of the Royal Air Forces Association, a charity established to benefit RAF service personnel.

On 23 January 2023, 2Excel Aviation announced with great solemnity that 2022 had been the final full season for the Blades Aerobatic Display Team. In a press release, 2Excel set forth that the decision had not been made lightly, and that the Blades had been an important and iconic aspect of the company’s business.

2Excel management called the Blades a “world-class team” and “the epitome of aerial excellence,” but cited compelling reasons for disbanding the team, including the worsening worldwide cost of living crisis, the “protracted hit to disposable incomes” and the “continued degradation of the air-show circuit.”

The cancellations of myriad air-shows and aerospace events in the wake of volatile markets and worldwide recession engendered by reckless governmental spending and fatuous U.S. and E.U. fiscal policies has left aerobatic performers and teams wanting for opportunities to display and showcase their sponsors to the public. 2Excel conceded: “Together, these factors prompted 2Excel’s Board to consider the future of the Blades. Regrettably, we concluded it is an unsustainable business model and, in the best interests of all our employee-owners, we needed to take action and redeploy our resources elsewhere within our fast-growing Company.”

Blades team founder and former RAF Red Arrows leader Andy Offer remarked: “The Blades will live on in spirit—our legacy to the air show world—and in the collective memory of our highly valued sponsors, our supporters, and the legions of people who’ve both watched the team from the ground and those who have taken flight on our Unforgettable Experience days to enjoy close formation aerobatics or become part of the Blades Flight Club.”

Mr. Offer concluded: “During the 17 flying seasons the Blades delivered, millions of people saw the team display and thousands have ridden onboard our aircraft. We owe a great debt of gratitude to every one of them. But, most importantly, we must pay tribute to the pilots who have flown with the team and to the ground staff who supported them over the years—especially to those who delivered the final season in 2022 with the Blades’ traditional professionalism and flair. They will be missed.”

2Excel asserted the Blades team would honor the remainder of its extant bookings.



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