A SHOWSTOPPING display by a world class aerobatic team is the first flight to be unveiled ahead of a popular air show.

The Blades will exhibit their precision flying and close-formation skills in the skies above Clacton at this year’s show.

Organisers Tendring Council hope the team’s performance will make up for the absence of crowd favourites the Red Arrows, who will miss the event as they tour North America.

The Blades are flown by a number of former Red Arrows pilots, including former Red 10 Mike Ling.

Ling spent a record ten years with the Arrows, racking up more than 2,500 sorties and 700 public displays.

He brings a rich wealth of experience to The Blades, who are expected to perform more than 30 different manoeuvres during their flight - reaching crossing speeds of around 350mph.

Alex Porter, Tendring councillor responsible for tourism, said: “We know there was some disappointment from Clacton Airshow fans when it was announced that the Red Arrows would be on their tour of North America over the time of this year’s event, but we really think that to have secured The Blades for both days of the Airshow will more than make up for it.

“There is a strong flight line-up this year which we will be revealing over the coming weeks.

“Whether you are regular visitors to the event or considering coming down for the first time, I highly recommend it.”

Other confirmed flights include the Wildcats, an aerobatic display flown in Pitts Special biplanes, the Norwegian air Force Historical Squadron T-33 Shooting Star and the Slingsby T67 Firefly.

The airshow takes place on Thursday, August 22 and Friday, August 23.

This year’s airshow will be the first time the Red Arrows have not appeared since 2011, when the fleet’s Hawk T1 jets were grounded following the death of one of its pilots in Bournemouth.

The RAF team will instead be holding a nine-week tour of North America aimed at generating £2.5billion in investment for Britain.

The North American outing will be first major tour of the US and Canada in more than 25 years.

Pilots and other Red Arrows officials will also meet business leaders, visit schools and attend other engagements during the tour, which follows the RAF’s 2018 centenary celebrations.

The tour will promote the Government’s ‘Great’ campaign, which was launched to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and raise the profile of British culture and business abroad.