Air show commemorates end of war

By Patrick LowmanA ROYAL Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was the highlight of a special event to commemorate the end of the Second World War.

By Patrick Lowman

A ROYAL Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was the highlight of a special event to commemorate the end of the Second World War.

More than 2,000 people basked in the glorious sunshine yesterday as they enjoyed spectacular displays at the Thurston Air Fair.

The event, to celebrate VE and VJ Day, was organised by the 863 (Thurston) Squadron Air Training Corps, and an array of displays by wartime and modern aircraft thrilled the scores of aviation enthusiasts.

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Five-time British Aerobatic Championship Mark Jefferies gave a jaw-dropping display with loop-the-loops and nose-dives in his Elite Twister Extra 300.

The Air Rescue Sea King Mk3a from Wattisham Airfield, the Army's latest frontline helicopter, the Aviation Apache AH mk1, a P51 Mustang and a Harvard AT6D built in 1946 where among the other favourite attractions.

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The curtain came down with an emotional recreation of the wartime years when Douglas C-47 planes performed a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

The only hiccup of the day came when a freak gust of wind lifted a huge gazebo 50ft into the air, but no-one was hurt during the incident.

Neil Paxman, event chairman, said: "The event has been absolutely fantastic, the displays have been first rate, the best we have ever had.

"Mark Jefferies' performance was just stunning and the crowd loved it and the memorial flight was obviously very emotional and left a lump in the throat.

"The range of aircraft we had this year was fantastic and people were able to witness some of the best in aviation from wartime up to modern day. The only hiccup we had was with the freak gust of wind, but luckily it didn't cause any real problem."

Prior to the air show a string of wartime musical events where held throughout Saturday, including the Thurston Prom Victory Concert featuring the Galaxy Big Band and Churchill's war in words and music.

More than 40 war veterans from the Normandy Veterans' Association and the Bury St Edmunds Royal British Legion attended the concerts, which featured a spectacular fireworks finale and a fly-past by a P51 Mustang and a Harvard.

Mr Paxman added: "Although the air show was great, the concerts the night before were just brilliant. There was lots of Union Jacks flying and having the veterans with us made it all the more special. It was a fitting way to make 60 years since the end of the war."

The event, now in its 12th year, raised £8,000 towards the 863 Squadron Air Training Corps.

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