Skies above the south coast were filled with speed, sound and awe-inspiring aerobatics, day and night, this weekend as the 12th Bournemouth Air Festival swooped in to thrill crowds across the resort fuelled by its biggest ever jet line up!
The 2019 star aircraft included debuts from the incredible Saab Draken, the T-33 Silver Star, legendary aircraft of the Ultimate Warbirds, a flypast by the US Navy’s PA-8 and the much-anticipated return of the awesome RAF Typhoon and the full Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) – Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire.
After a launch ceremony presided over by BCP Council Chair Councillor David Flagg, four thrilling days of aviation action got off to a flying start with the Blades Aerobatic Team, whose appearance was supported by Oceana Hotels & Restaurants and The Cumberland and was followed by a full day of sky-high displays, skill and aviation enjoyment.
Friday kicked off with the crowd-pleasing Tigers Parachute Display Team – appearance supported by the Marriott Bournemouth Highcliff. The charismatic team of fearless jumpers gave their famous VIP salute to the mayors of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole – Councillor Susan Phillips, Councillor Lesley Dedman and Councillor Marion Le Poidevin respectively.
Fast jet fans felt the awesome presence of the RAF Typhoon which gave a thrilling show after a three year absence, supported by Morgan Sindall Investments and Construction, as well as dusk displays against the backdrop of golden sunsets across the bay. Pilot, Flight Lieutenant Jim Peterson said: “It’s been amazing – definitely in my top five air shows!”
Thrill seekers also welcomed the fantastic Saab Draken, operated by Swedish Air Force Historic Flight and whose appearance was supported by World Fuel Services. Pilot Lars Martinsson, said: “What a fantastic venue. I have loved displaying in Bournemouth and hope you’ll have us back next year!”
The afternoon also included a flypast from US Navy surveillance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon – a specially modified Boeing and a stomach churning performance from Rich Goodwin in his Super Pitts Muscle Plane whose appearance was supported by Bournemouth Airport.
Amid brief respite from the sun, Saturday saw people flock to the beaches and clifftops to witness the MiG15 and Canadair T-33 Silver Star jets plus more fast jet-powered performances from the Strikemaster Pair – appearance supported by the Hotel Miramar. Festival goers were also able to see the RAF Tucano flying for the last time in Bournemouth before it is withdrawn from RAF operations, after 30 years of service, at the end of the year.
There was a great line-up for helicopter fans with the Royal Navy Black Cat – appearance supported by the Daily Echo – and the RAF Chinook swooping in as part of the afternoon programme.
The 2019 festival drew to a close on Sunday with a unique fly past by The Blades and Ultimate Warbird Flights and a final Typhoon display.
Thanks to the generous support of Bournemouth Air Festival Patrons Club, the spectacular Night Air programme took place to the sounds of live tribute bands on the beach stage and featured dusk displays from festival favourites the RAF Typhoon and Spitfire.
Bournemouth’s skies were lit up once again with pyrotechnics from the Fireflies – appearance supported by Wave 105, Otto the Helicopter and the Piper Cub, as well as the Red Devils Army Parachute Display Team and firework displays on Friday and Saturday.
Courtesy of the Royal Navy, RFA Lyme Bay and HMS Argyle sailed into the bay for the duration of the festival and adventurous seafarers embarked on anchorage tours around both ships. Meanwhile, the Royal Navy Village was set up along the prom with the Army Village and popular diving tank demonstrations on the Overcliff.
The RAF Village, this year located on the East Overcliff, was awash with families enjoying the opportunity to find out about careers, see a static Chinook and take part in a virtual reality experience. The Overcliff was also home to vintage vehicles on Saturday and Sunday with owners and enthusiasts parking up to marvel at motors of days gone by.
The Lower Gardens hosted this year’s atmospheric Beat Retreat Sunset Ceremony, performed by HM Royal Marines Band Portsmouth, and a show of strength with the Royal Marines unarmed combat.
Building on previous years, organisers stepped up the event’s environmental credentials with a pledge to offset the carbon footprint from aircraft by investing in projects to protect wildlife and benefit local communities. Working with nationally accredited Carbon Footprint Ltd. this will see trees planted locally as well as supporting a project to prevent deforestation in the Amazon.
During the festival, BCP Council took the opportunity to push its ongoing environmental awareness campaign, Leave Only Footprints, as people were encouraged to help keep the resort’s award-winning beaches looking splendid by clearing up after themselves at the end of the day and putting rubbish in the bins provided. Festival goers and event staff were also encouraged to bring reusable bottles, to download the Refill Dorset app and fill up from taps located along the seafront.
BCP Tourism’s Head of Operations, Chris Saunders, said: “We’ve enjoyed yet another hugely successful event with impressive displays, good weather and, most importantly, thousands of smiling faces. Night Air is always popular, and this year was no exception with spectacular performances set against glorious sunsets creating must–see displays light up the skies.
“The festival is a great celebration of everything this stretch of coastline has to offer. With action on land, at sea and in the skies, we’re proving that Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole really is the coast with the most!”
Councillor Lewis Allison, BCP Council Tourism Portfolio Holder, said; “This kind of show inevitably draws attention for many reasons and we’re proud to offer a great day out for all the family. At the same time, work to offset the festival’s carbon footprint demonstrates our commitment to reducing its impact on the environment.
“I’d like to thank the enthusiastic display teams, residents and visitors who have come to watch and all those who work to keep people safe and help the festival run smoothly.”
An estimated 812,000 people attended this year’s festival and the dates for next year have been announced as 20-23 August 2020.
For details visit bournemouthair.co.uk or follow the Air Festival crew on social media #bmthairfest.