BOURNEMOUTH’S 10TH AIR FESTIVAL – FABULOUS FLYING & RECORDS BROKEN!
As thousands gathered for what could be summer’s last shout, the 10th Bournemouth Air Festival presented three full days of fantastic action in the air, on the ground and at sea. Taking place from 31 August – 3 September, this year’s festival featured a wide range of displays from WWII fighters and fast jets to parachute jumpers and wingwalkers. And it wasn’t just the daytime flying that wowed the crowds – dusk displays, pyrotechnics and live music meant that families could enjoy the action well into the evening. In celebration of 10 years, the award-winning event took on a very vintage feel – with historic aircraft across the weekend and culminating in a display of classic cars on the East Overcliff..
Now in its 10th year the event is stronger than ever with its value to the local economy estimated at more than £31million per year supporting 500 full time jobs. Records were broken with more than 15,000 ice creams sold in one day, an estimated 1,020 boats in the bay recorded by HM coastguard and approx 450,000 festival goers who attended ‘Super Saturday’.
Mark Smith, Director of Tourism for Bournemouth, said: “The enduring success of the BAF is down to three things, having the world’s finest display arena, the amazing talents of the pilots and display teams and the wonderful support of the Armed Forces.
Despite a few scattered showers on the first day, all programmed displays took place as aircraft fans welcomed back festival favourites including the Blades, the Royal Air Force Chinook Display Team and aerobatic pilot, Gerald Cooper. Day one signed off in style with a performance from HM RM Band Collingwood in the Lower Gardens’ bandstand and live music on the beach.
Friday’s glorious dawn heralded a meet and greet with the RAF Red Arrows, who – thanks to sponsorship from Morgan Sindall – performed their awe-inspiring display every day except Sunday. Squadron Leader Mike Ling, Red 10, said: “The Red Arrows always feel at home in Bournemouth, we have such an affinity with the event and it’s been a privilege to take part in each of the ten festivals.”
The hot weather continued into Saturday, providing breath-taking views across the bay and the perfect backdrop for spectacular feats of derring-do. Firm friends of the festival the Tigers Parachute Display Team were back once again diving onto Bournemouth’s golden sands from knee-trembling heights and a solo Breitling Wingwalker limbered and flexed through the clear blue skies.
As well as the popular Red Arrows, high speed fun continued with jets including the MIG, Vampire Pair, Strikemasters and, back for the first time since 2009, the Russian Yakovlevs performed tandem twists and turns above the sparkling sea.
Dusk displays returned for another year with the Twister Duo, Otto the Helicopter and the Red Devils Parachute Regiment performed magical pyrotechnic displays against the weekend’s clear moonlit skies. Live music stages starring tribute acts and party bands, as well as children’s entertainment in the Lower Gardens and fireworks in the bay, completed the 2017 Night Air programme.
The forecast rain and high winds eventually set in on the final day but didn’t dampen the festival feel. The Royal Navy carried out their final amphibious beach assault demonstration and those who braved the weather, saw a selection of classic motors on the East Overcliff.
Although Sunday’s flying programme was cancelled, the spirit of the wartime tribute had already been honoured with a huge variety of historic aircraft across the weekend.
Hordes of enthusiasts had already seen a Hurricane, Spitfire, P-51 Mustang, the ever-popular Sally B and a Blenheim featured in recent Hollywood blockbuster, Dunkirk. The Great War Display Team also put on a magnificent show in their flying machines on both Saturday and Sunday.
As ever, armed forces support for Bournemouth’s biggest event was evident with military personnel and assets across the resort. The Royal Marines impressive amphibious beach assault demonstrations were supported by the Royal Navy’s Primary Aviation Training Ship and Primary Casualty Receiving Facility (PCRF) RFA Argus, as well as Hawk jets and a Wildcat attack helicopter. The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood also performed musical extravaganza, the Beat Retreat sunset ceremony, on the East Overcliff.
Overseeing his last BAF before retiring from the Navy after a 48-year career, Commodore Miller Royal Navy Regional Commander said: “I leave this role as Naval Regional Commander since 2004 with a legacy of which I'm proud.
"This major high profile event in Bournemouth is an important national public occasion for the Navy. It gives us, in uniform, the chance to tell the public what we do and why.
"It's so rewarding to be appreciated, especially by the people of Bournemouth and others. When the chips are down and we're at war for instance, this feeling gives us a morale boost and fortifies us knowing we are being supported back home."
Bournemouth Air Festival is back again next year and dates are 30 August – 2 September 2018.