Sywell Aerodrome ex-Red Arrow pilots unite with Spitfires to mark 80 years since Battle of Britain
The Blades - the award-winning aerobatic display team of former Red Arrows pilots - today marked this year’s Battle of Britain Day by flying over former RAF sector stations that played an essential role in defending our skies during the Second World War.
After flying out of Sywell at 10.30am, The Blades flew over Northampton, in between Roade and Hartwell, before flying to the west of Milton Keynes and onto Oxfordshire. Their route back sees them fly over the north of Bedford at about 4.20pm today.
The Blades’ Extra 300 aircraft will be travelling some 250 nautical miles, flying over nine Battle of Britain sector stations including Duxford, Kenley and North Weald, as well as the former fighter command headquarters at Bentley Priory.
The flight was conducted as a tribute to the pilots, ground crew and support staff who sacrificed so much during the aerial fighting 80 years ago.
Blades’ team leader, Andy Evans, said: "This is an extraordinary day and what other way to mark the Battle of Britain anniversary than sharing the skies with the world-famous British icons that took centre stage 80 years ago?
"For the first time in Blades’ history, we auctioned off the front seats of our Extra 300 aircraft on a passenger flight in and out of Biggin Hill to do exactly that - to fly alongside multiple warbirds, including a Spitfire and a Hurricane."
The Blades will be flying in close formation with some of the iconic warbirds of the time, including the Boultbee Academy Spitfire, which joined in the mission over Hampshire, and a Spitfire and Hurricane flown by Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar pilots formed up over the Kent countryside.
A Mustang and Spitfire will then escort the Blades back to their team base at Sywell Aerodrome.
At the route’s midway point, the team landed at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, which supported this unique experience, to meet RAF veterans and guests for a RAF Benevolent Fund ‘8Tea Party’.
It comes as The RAF Benevolent Fund has also been leading a national tribute to all those who played a key role in the battle with a poignant light show at a former Battle of Britain radar site, with the hope of getting RAF veterans back on the radar.
Andy Evans added: "Proceeds raised from this mixed formation flight are going towards the essential work the RAF Benevolent Fund undertakes to support the RAF family, of which we are a part.”
"As former military pilots ourselves, this charity is close to our hearts and has been for more than six years, so we were delighted to be able to offer our support."