Aircraft thrill crowds at annual show

By Roddy AshworthTHOUSANDS of eager sightseers flocked to the coast to watch the first day of the annual Clacton Air Show.Organisers said last night they hoped this year's show would break records for attendance, with the spectacular programme set to continue today.

By Roddy Ashworth

THOUSANDS of eager sightseers flocked to the coast to watch the first day of the annual Clacton Air Show.

Organisers said last night they hoped this year's show would break records for attendance, with the spectacular programme set to continue today.

Both adults and children marvelled yesterday at a feast of aerobatics while plane-lovers and experts were well catered for with excellent views of some of the RAF's finest aircraft in action.


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Flying over the sea in front of a packed beach and greensward, the Clacton Air Show opened with the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team who wowed audiences with their daring descent.

This was followed by a heart-stopping routine performed by the Utterley Butterly Wingwalkers, whose two “aerobabes” showed why they deserved their reputation for performing with nerves of steel.

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The twins stood on the wings of a pair of Boeing Stearman biplanes and braved speeds of up to 140mph over the waters off Clacton while their daring pilots took the aircraft through a sequence of stunts.

The most incredible of these - the famous “Mirror” formation - saw one plane flying upside-down over the other so close that the aerobabes were able to touch hands in mid-air.

Another amazing demonstration of aerobatics was given by the Sukhoi 26, an aircraft built in the 1980s to a military specification with the sole aim of enabling its pilots to gain maximum points in aerobatic competitions.

It showed its capabilities admirably in front of yesterday's appreciative seaside audience.

The Battle of Britain Memorial flight brought back special memories to many of the older showgoers when the unmistakable sound of a Lancaster bomber was heard among other vintage aircraft flying towards the display area.

The appearance of the Second World War military aircraft was made all the more poignant as this year marks the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the 60th anniversary of the end of the war.

Meanwhile, more modern RAF planes were also on display with solo demonstrations of the Jaguar, Tornado and Hawk.

Thrilling onlookers with the sheer noise of their jet engines, these fast warplanes performed incredible manoeuvres at unbelievable speeds.

Making its traditional and ever-popular appearance at the show was the Harrier, which was met by a line of waving youngsters on the beach as it performed its now familiar stationary “nod” while hovering before the crowd.

After a surprisingly agile set of flypasts by the 51ft Chinook helicopter, the Red Arrows proved that approaching bad weather would not stop them from giving a first-class precision display.

As deep-black clouds moved seawards towards the coast and heavy wind blustered their coloured vapour trails into an uneven mist of red, white and blue, the Red Arrows still managed to perform a series of spectacular joint manoeuvres.

roddy.ashworth@eadt.co.uk

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