The Bournemouth Air Festival has rapidly become one of the biggest and best seaside air show in the UK since it started in back in 2008. Held along Bournemouth’s sandy beaches between Boscombe and Bournemouth Piers the show has attracted millions of people over the four days at past events. Just like Yeovilton has the special commando assault finale, the Bournemouth air festival begins with a beach assault by the royal marines! Here are my thoughts on Bournemouth Air Festival 2014.
Bournemouth Air Festival 2014, marks the first time I have attended, and although I was only there for the Thursday and Friday show, the atmosphere was remarkable. Not only does the event offer the same attractions as the air shows found on the airfields, but they have the additions of the navy anchored off shore. Out of all the features this event offers, it is the price admission that really gets your attention. It is FREE!
On Thursday the Festival’s display programme was opened with 94-year old wingwalker Tom Lackey, performing in poor conditions he was battling the drizzle that closed in on his display. he said afterwards; “It’s been a fantastic and unbelievable experience. You’ll never need a facelift once you’ve had a wing walk!”
The military might soon followed with the Lynx HM8 paired up with the Wildcat AW159 to form the Black cat team. Seeing this new unique formation gave you a great idea of how far the upgrades went to create the wildcat. Although during the show the back flips were left to the Lynx, I am sure it will not be long before we see the Wildcat doing the same. With the weather closing in the action ceased to stop with some low flying from the RAF Grob Tutor and Tucano. Luckily the clouds lifted and the day got brighter for the arrival of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic display team, The Red Arrows! The team did a full display taking great advantage of the sea front scenery, there was plenty of oportunities to get some unique shots of the Hawk Jets.
I have never really had a chance until now to see an air show at sunset, so to get that plus the Rolls Royce Spitfire glowing in the rays of the setting sun really made the wait worth it. Closing the Night Air displays for Thursday was the Twister Team solo aircraft G-ZWIP, flown by Jon Gowdy and performing for the first time O’Brien’s flying circus flying in a duet with neon lights and pyrotechnics brightening the skies with colours and trails.
Following that there was the Parachute Regiment’s Red Devils. Not only did they jump at night with glow sticks attached to their suits, they too had pyrotechnics attached to their feet providing a wonderful finale to the day.
The Friday saw the ships combine with the might of the Royal Marines to present the traditional beach assault. This year’s scenario saw a group of insurgents bunkered down on the beach, with the Marines coming ashore on their fast patrol boats and landing craft supported by Viking armoured vehicles. In the air there was support by a AgustaWestland Merlin HM1 and AgustaWestland Wildcat AW159. Although the Friday assault was more of a rehearsal for Saturday, the effort the soldiers put into it was 100%. I have always enjoyed watching mock-up scenarious by the armed forces and with this being my first beach assault, it has left me wanting me to come back just for this.
Friday had a few new additions to the flying display, most notably was the Royal Air Force Typhoon, thundering in with little warning and straight into the display, I will admit, as much as I did enjoy the display, he was too far out to get any decent shots I am used to if it was on an airfield, which is in no fault of the display team. This was followed by the Chinook Display team, really pushed the envelope on performance from the past displays this year, with more blade slap at Bournemouth then I remember in the total of the other shows I have attended this year.
A Squirrel HT1 made a special appearance on the beach too, making a skid landing on the beach in front of the crowds in order to taxi Red Ten, Mike Ling to the next display venue.
There was one aircraft I have been looking forward to seeing all year, but have never been able to see, due to technical difficulties with the aircraft, and that is the one and only de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW2 G-Cvix, known by her fans as Foxy Lady! To see her in the sky is always a blessing as her unique shape and sound flies along the coast in front of the crowd. The Sea Vixen is now in the hands of the Fleet Air Arm’s heritage trust, which will hopefully keep her flying for many years to come.
It was a great pity that I could only do the Thursday and Friday as from what I saw the weekend show was even better! Hopefully I will get the opportunity to go to Bournemouth again next year.
Few shows can match the atmosphere or experience of the Bournemouth Air Festival which provided a very unique and entertaining two days of action on the Dorset Coast for me. I would also like to give special thanks to my lovely girlfriend who organised the trip for my birthday!