This weekend saw the 11th Bournemouth Air Festival swoop into the UK’s best seaside resort – with the Breitling Jet Team making their UK debut, a futuristic jet suit that would be at home in a superhero movie and everyone’s favourite, the Red Arrows displaying on three days.
This year’s festival has attracted a total number of 1,006,000 people over four, action-packed days, with the good weather tempting almost 2000 boats into the bay.
Taking place from 30 August – 2 September amidst plenty of good weather, 2018 saw festival firsts, fast jets and very vintage fun in celebration of RAF100. There was also a packed programme of live music, family entertainment and dusk displays long after the sun had gone down.
The fun kicked off on day one with families enjoying sunny spells and a full day of flying. There was a surprise Tornado flypast, Super Pitts Muscle Plane and Team Raven, bringing their four-ship formation display to Bournemouth for the first time.
Richard Goodwin, pilot of the Super Pitts Muscle Plane whose display was supported by Wave 105, said: “It’s my first time at the Bournemouth Air Festival and I have to say, what an incredible arena for aerial entertainment! It has genuinely been the highlight of my air show year.”
Friday saw tens of thousands flock to the seafront to witness the very first flight of the Gravity Industries Jet Suit Display Team pair in their display supported by the GREAT Britain campaign. Pioneering ground-breaking technology, the team lifted off from Bournemouth Pier and flew along the beach to the drop zone in three entertaining and very eventful shows!
Director of Flight Training, Dr Angelo Grubisic broke the team’s Jet Suit Speed Record, flying at 74 kmph – beating the Guinness World Record of 51.3 kmph set in November last year. Richard Browning, Founder and Chief Test Pilot, was also able to fly the longest distance of 1.4km – further than the team has ever flown before.
Richard said: “At Gravity Industries we are always developing and testing our technology. It’s been the most fantastic week, pushing boundaries, and we very much look forward to coming back to display at Bournemouth Air Festival and potentially grow a part of our international race series across the waterfront.”
On what is commonly now dubbed ‘Super Saturday’, the Royal Air Force Red Arrows concluded three days of show-stopping aerobatic displays – supported by World Fuel Services. Hugely popular with crowds around the world, the team is a firm favourite of Bournemouth Air Festival… and vice versa!
Adam Collins, Red 10: “The response from the Bournemouth Air Festival crowd has been tremendous – particularly in 2018, the 100th anniversary of the RAF – and the Red Arrows have taken great pleasure in seeing so many young people at the event inspired to think about their potential future in science, technology, engineering and maths. Bournemouth always delivers a great festival and will always remain a highlight of our display season.”
This year, the festival also welcomed the international Breitling Jet Team, displaying for the very first time in the UK – appearance supported by Morgan Sindall. The French team has been an enormously well received addition to the programme, with reams of favourable comments on social media.
Jacques Bothelin, Team Leader and Manager, said: “It’s our first time to Bournemouth and we are so happy to be in the UK. We’re really enjoying ourselves. The Air Festival is very professionally organised with a great atmosphere. It’s such a beautiful sight especially when we flew at dusk.”
More high speed power came in the shape of the Strikemaster Pair whose appearance was supported by The Cumberland and Oceana hotel group. In another crowd-pleasing combination, they teamed up with the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron (NAFHS) Vampire Pair and the incredible MiG for a historic five-ship display, choreographed especially for the festival.
Not content with more than 14 hours of fantastic daytime flying, Bournemouth Air Festival brought back its unique Night Air programme – thanks to the support of the Patrons Club.
Last year’s hit, LED-adorned aircraft, the Fireflies, joined forces with aerobatic masters, the Twister Pair, for a stunning spectacle against the South Coast’s sunset skies. As night drew in, the incredible helicopter “Otto” added more explosive entertainment than ever before, featuring over 2000 pyros. Guaranteed crowd-pullers, the British Army Tigers Freefall Parachute Display Team – appearance supported by the Marriott Bournemouth Highcliff – and Breitling jets also returned for evening displays alongside family entertainment in the Lower Gardens, live music on the Bournemouth Beach Stage, unarmed combat demonstrations and the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth in a beat retreat performance.
Sunday’s displays completed the 2018 line-up and featured the balletic airborne manoeuvres of the Blades – appearance supported by Createful, the AeroSuperBatics wingwalkers – appearance supported by the Daily Echo, and the Chinook – appearance supported by Conduent.
Saturday and Sunday were also dedicated to celebration of the RAF centenary and commemoration of the end of World War I. A Very Vintage Weekend took place on the East Overcliff with classic cars, live music and even dancing in the street! There was a fitting backdrop of wartime displays from the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) – starring the Hurricane, Dakota and Spitfire, the Bremont Great War Display Team, and Bournemouth belle, Sally B – appearance supported by the Hotel Miramar.
Proving that it truly is so much more than just an air show, the festival site was once again complete with Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army villages, as well as a huge variety of trading stalls along the promenade and clifftops. With the addition of HMS Diamond in the bay, this year’s anchorage tours were extremely popular and sold out by the last day.
Festival Director Jon Weaver said: “We’ve had jet teams, stunt pilots, display teams, pyros and international aircraft! It’s been a diverse, exciting and adrenaline-fuelled line-up with land, air and evening entertainment. The weather has been incredible and we also owe a huge thank you to the hundreds and thousands of people who have come to watch and enjoy the festival – see you all next year!”
Bournemouth Air Festival is back again next year and dates are 29 August – 1 September 2019.
Twitter & Instagram: @BmthAirFest