RECORD-BREAKING crowds flocked to the 25th Shoreham Airshow, dubbed the ‘best ever’ by organisers and visitors alike.
The eagerly anticipated weekend of aerobatic entertainment featured a vast array of aircraft and some truly breathtaking displays.
The Avro Vulcan, absent last year due to a fuel leak, thundered across the sky on its return to Shoreham, to the delight of the crowd.
Next year will be the Vulcan’s last flying season.
The iconic Lancaster Bomber was another major highlight.
Many had hoped to see the only two working Lancasters left in the world flying together at Shoreham, but last-minute engine problems grounded the Canadian plane on Friday.
Nevertheless, the sight of the bomber on the horizon accompanied by two Spitfires was an emotional one for many in the crowd. Geoff and Shirley Grant had travelled all the way from Yorkshire, and said the Battle of Britain memorial flight and the Vulcan had been their favourite displays.
“I made so many models of the Lancaster as a lad and sat in the cockpit of one at Blackpool Airport, but seeing it flying is really something else,” said Geoff, 71.
Melanie Paulding was on a family day out with her husband, Michael, and their four-year-old son, Amaya.
“It’s our third year and we love it,” said Melanie.
“It’s got a really nice feel and the displays are amazing. We particularly like the Vulcan but we like all the war planes. They make me feel very emotional. It’s just brilliant.”
Melanie’s brother-in-law, Dave Paulding, said it had been a ‘fantastic day’. “Seeing the Vulcan was emotive and very impressive,” he said.
“I have seen it before, but it’s great every time.”
The grand finale was the appearance of the Eurofighter Typhoon, flown by Flt Lt Noel Rees. The jet’s deafening roar and stunning aerobatic display provided a show-stopping end to both days’ entertainment.
The show’s press officer, John Periam, said: “Everyone’s saying it’s by far the best Airshow that’s ever been, there’s no doubt about that.”
“The comments coming back from the pilots are that it was so professionally run.
“The flying display was unique, with such a cross- section of different types of aircraft, which made it very different this year, and that’s down to display director Rod Dean, who really worked hard on that.”
An unexpected highlight was the model aircraft display, which went down extremely well with the crowd, especially when a model Extra 300 flew with a real one, earning a standing ovation.
Anyone who had been nodding off after a heavy lunch was soon awoken by the booms and bangs of the airfield attack and scramble. This year saw the airfield transformed into a Nazi airbase in northern France on D-Day, under attack by RAF and US Army Air Force fighters.
Flight Sergeant Mike Maguire led the RAF Falcons parachute display team, who overcame strong winds to perform their trademark ‘loose stack’ manoeuvre.
“This particular show is favourite of ours because it’s a bit more cosy than others,” said Flt Sgt Maguire. “We get to meet more people and interact with the crowd a lot more, and that’s the best part of the job.
“The crowd interaction really makes the job and the crowd at Shoreham are fantastic.”
Strong winds forced the team to jump 2,000 yards from the landing area, from a height of 4,000 feet.
To watch video highlights of the show, visit www.shorehamherald.co.uk