VIDEO: ‘I couldn’t stop smiling after aerobatics experience’

WHEN I was asked if I would like to fly with the Blades Aerobatic Display Team, I jumped at the chance.

S33605H14 Alex Jenkins in the cockpit
S33605H14 Alex Jenkins in the cockpit

After a safety briefing I followed pilot Mark Cutmore to his bright plane and was securely strapped in the front cockpit of the two seater Extra EA-300 plane.

Alongside my plane there were two others, both with excited passengers and all raring to go.

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As Mark flies in Blades One we were leading the pack and as soon as were given the go-ahead we were up in the sky.

S33605H14 Alex Jenkins in the cockpit

The planes are so quick and nimble, that it took me by surprise at first, but soon I was too busy gawking at beautiful Sussex below us.

Suddenly we were joined by the two other planes, one either side of us. As we flew in formation it dawned on me how close we really were, it is staggering when you think about it.

I could clearly see the other passengers and pilots, giving them a big wave and a thumbs up.

Then it was time for some manoeuvres. First off was the wingover (where the aircraft makes a tight, 180 degree change in direction), followed by the loop, which was incredibly exciting.

It was then decided we would all break formation so we could experience a mixture of advanced manoeuvres, something that received an enthusiastic nod by me.

As I grinned from ear to ear, Mark moved the plane into a series of daredevil moves – the barrel role (where the aeroplane makes a complete rotation on both its longitudinal and lateral axis), three aileron rolls (where the aircraft does a full 360° revolution about its longitudinal axis), and an inverted, where we flew 
upside down.

Other tricks included a stall turn, the tailslide – where we flew backwards while releasing a jet of smoke – plus a lomcevak, which is a vertical manoeuvre where you spin.

It was a very surreal experience, especially when I looked above me through the glass roof to see the countryside below.

Having proven I have a strong stomach, Mark finished off the flight with his two most impressive tricks.

The first of these was the tumble where we span through the air, while the 
last was the corkscrew where you circle around the other plane.

Both of these were incredible and by the end of my 20-minute flight I could not wipe off my smile.

This was an amazing experience and one I would definitely recommend.