The Blades (GB)

bladeslogoThe Blades are a full-time aerobatic display team consisting of former, world renowned RAF Red Arrow pilots.

Now into their 11th season and with over 30,000 hours between them, The Blades are one of the most experienced formation teams, continuously demonstrating a highly polished performance.

Led by Ben Murphy, this 4-ship team fly the Extra aircraft.  

Formation Aerobatic Championships

 

Ben Murphy (Blade 1 & Team Leader)
Ben became interested in flying at an early age and, inspired by his grandfathers who were both pilots in the RAF, joined the Air Cadets at school.

He went on to gain his Private Pilot’s License and joined the RAF in 1997.

Having finished his flying training in 2000, he was selected to fly the Harrier.

Ben served operationally on 1(F) Sqn during the Gulf War of 2003 and later on IV(AC) Sqn in Afghanistan as a Qualified Weapons Instructor before becoming an Instructor on 20(R) Sqn teaching young pilots how to operate the Harrier.

Ben flew over 1000hrs on the Harrier and operated from all over the world, including the ocean – aboard HMS Ark Royal and Illustrious.

In 2006, Ben was selected to join the Red Arrows and in his first year, flew in the Red 2 position. The following year, he was chosen to become part of the iconic Synchro Pair.

After leading the Synchro Pair in 2009, Ben was then selected to become the next Leader and Commanding Officer of the Red Arrows for the 2010 and 2011 display seasons.

During his 5 years in the Red Arrows, Ben flew over 480 public displays and amassed over 1500hrs display flying. He displayed all over the world from the US and Canada to the Middle and Far East as well as at home in the UK and Europe.

After leaving the RAF in 2013, Ben joined Lockheed Martin but continued his display flying and in 2015 he joined The Blades.

In 2016, Ben competed in the Red Bull Air Race Challenger Cup and took over leadership of The Blades from Mark Cutmore.
Andy Evans (Blade 2)
Andy Evans took up the solo display pilot position, Blade 4, at the beginning of 2012.

Having joined the RAF in 1985 as a member of Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron, Andy was awarded his wings in 1989 and was selected to fly the Jet Provost as a Flying Instructor.

Following his Tactical Weapons Training, Andy joined No 6 Squadron and subsequently No 41 (Fighter) Squadron on the Jaguar front line. Serving operationally, Andy flew over Bosnia Herzegovina before being chosen to fly with the Red Arrows. Andy flew with the Team between 1997 and 2000 and flew as Red 2, 4 and then 8. After three years with the Team, Andy became the first Red Arrow’s pilot to stay at Scampton and work with the Team as the Manager, flying as Red 10. Using his vast experience of display flying, Andy spent 3 years as the Air Show Advisor to the Royal Saudi Air Force National Aerobatic Team, The Saudi Hawks.

On his return from The Gulf, Andy left the RAF and joined The Blades as one of the founding Team members.
Kirsty Murphy (Blade 3)
Kirsty joined The Blades in spring 2016 after 17 years in the RAF. She started flying training on the University of London Air Squadron whilst studying Aeronautical Engineering with German at Imperial College.

After gaining a Masters degree, she joined the RAF and completed flying training on the Tucano and the Hawk T1. Her first tour with the RAF was as an instructor on the Hawk T1 at RAF Valley.

She was subsequently posted to the Tornado GR4 and joined XIII Sqn at RAF Marham, with whom she flew operational sorties in Iraq.

In 2009 she became the 1st female to be selected to fly with the Red Arrows and flew a total of 136 public displays and 133 flypasts in 11 different countries. In her last year, she was selected to be the Executive Officer.

After a final three year posting on promotion within the Flying Training Headquarters, Kirsty left the RAF in 2015.
Mark Cutmore (Blade 4)
Mark ‘Cutty’ Cutmore joined the team in 2008 as Blade 3, and then spent 3 years as Blade 4, before taking over as Blade 1 in 2012. After five seasons running The Blades (which he reckons is the pinnacle of his flying career), he has handed over to Ben Murphy and will return to wing-man duties for 2017.

'Cutty' worked as a butcher and mechanic before joining the RAF, serving as an Air Traffic Controller for two years before a branch change to flying duties in 1990.

After three years flying training, 'Cutty' was selected to fly the Jaguar, and after a tour at RAF Coltishall, spent a further two years at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland as a weapons instructor.

Whilst in Scotland, 'Cutty' was chosen to represent the RAF as the Jaguar Display pilot for two years, after which he was selected to join the Red Arrows in 1999, flying as Red 3, 5 and 9.

Following a Flight Commander tour back on the Jaguar, 'Cutty’s' last role in the RAF was as the Special Adviser to the Royal Saudi Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Saudi Hawks, taking over from Blade 4, Andy Evans.