The Blades impress crowds at East Kirkby Air Show

The Blades, an aerobatic display team of former Red Arrows pilots, wowed crowds with a thrilling display at East Kirkby Air Show on Sunday, August 7.

The Blades pictured at East Kirkby Air Show. Credit: Claire Hartley. EMN-211008-114149001

Blade 3 Mike Ling is the Red Arrows’ longest serving pilot, clocking up more than flying 1,700 hours over his 10 years with the Reds, but his career has not been entirely turbulence free.

During a Red Arrows training session in Crete in 2010, Mike was involved in a mid-air collision with another Red Arrow jet.

He spent weeks in hospital, with injuries including badly damaged legs, arms, substantial burns, a dislocated shoulder, lacerations on his face and damaged lungs.

The Blades pictured at East Kirkby Air Show. Credit: Claire Hartley. EMN-211008-114200001

However, with the support of the RAF Benevolent Fund, Mike was able to get back on his feet and back in the air.

The fund provided a powered wheelchair for the remainder of his recovery, which helped Mike regain some of the independence he lost after his accident and allowed him to take care of himself again. Now Mike is giving back to the fund by helping raise awareness of the charity’s important work and the practical, financial and emotional support services it offers.

Mike said: “I’ve a real affinity with Lincolnshire, having spent so much of my time in the RAF based here. To be back in the county displaying amidst the history, sights and sounds of former RAF East Kirkby is a real treat. The old and new aviation spectacle that will be on show today is going to delight the crowds.

“That sentiment also echoes with the aims of our charity partner, the RAF Benevolent Fund, who stand alongside members of the RAF family in their times of need. I know first-hand the difference their support can make so I’m keen to spread that message to others who might not know the many ways in which the fund can help. If the past year and the pressures of Covid-19 have shown us anything, it’s that we all need to be there for one another.”

Blade 3 Mike Ling is the Red Arrows’ longest serving pilot, clocking up more than flying 1,700 hours over his 10 years with the Red Arrows. EMN-210508-102217001

The RAF Benevolent Fund is supported by the Blades Aerobatic Team who help spread the word about the work the charity does providing financial, emotional, and practical assistance to serving and retired RAF personnel and their families.