The August Bank Holiday weekend is usually a very
busy one for airshows.
The first major show of the weekend
is the small, but perfectly
formed seaside show held in
Clacton, part of Essex's "Sunshine
Coast.". Held over a Thursday
and Friday, one of the aims
of the show is to extend the
busy holiday weekend for the
hotels and restaurants that
depend on the tourist trade.
The line-up is full of old favourites
from the display circuit as
well strong support from the
Royal Air Force. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. Photography
copyright of the Author.
Clacton's annual airshow is much smaller than many
of the other seaside airshows
such as the nearby Southend
Festival of the Air. However, Clacton is a place with
strong aviation links. Above
the town sit's Clacton Aero
Club, a small grass airfield
home to a few light aircraft,
a pleasant little Clubhouse
and a hanger which contains
a Dragon Rapide amongst other
interesting bits and pieces.
Along the promenade, many of the regular trading outlets
were out in force. The
beach and promenade soon
filled with families leaving
the entire area rather congested.
The Pier also proved very popular and
during the displays was almost
standing room only - Clacton
is a very popular show. 2009
saw crowd numbers exceed 120,000
thanks largely to the good weather.
Coming towards the end of the
traditional english school holidays,
the Airshow is one of the last
big events families can attend
week and is a vital part of
Clacton's season. The airshow
itself sees an eclectic mix
of flying displays from the
UK's top display acts, though
the line-up remains broadly
similar year on year.
Making an early appearance each day was the Essex
Air Ambulance EC135 helicopter.
It was the only rotary element
in the 2009 flying display giving
a couple of flypasts prior to
the start of the main display.
A planned appearance by a RAF
Search and Rescue Sea King was
scrubbed on both days due to
At the core of the flying were the displays from the
Royal Air Force. Clacton was
dealt a blow earlier in the
season with the reduction in
display appearances by the Typhoon.
The reduction saw many of the
Typhoon Display Team's weekday appearances cut and left
many of the "holiday"
airshows without any representatives
from the "front-line."
It was therefore left to the RAF's training
fleet to provide the solo displays
above Clacton. Flt Lt Bill Ramsey
flew the diminutive Tutor
T1 over the two days. The
Tutor can often get overlooked
for it's displays but it's a
punchy performer and is capable
of some remarkable aerobatics.
The display Tutor is based at RAF Cranwell which is
also home to the RAF's King
Air fleet. Flt Lts Leon
Creese and Chris Enwright have
had a busy season or displaying
the twin engine training aircraft
up and down the country. Their
displays are often set to ELO's
"Mr Blue Sky" and
have been an instant hit at
the shows they've attended.
The only RAF fast jet in the display was the Hawk
T1 flown by Flt Lt Matt Barker.
The Hawk always puts on a fine
display which is greatly enhanced
by some stunning colour schemes
In 2009, the scheme is rather
patriotic with a large Union
flag adorning the tail fin and
the Royal Air Force Benevolent
Fund "roundel" on
the underside of the aircraft.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight provided
a display of the RAF's past
on the Thursday when the winds
were much lighter; Friday's
display was cancelled due to
the high winds. For their
Clacton appearance, they brought
the Lancaster, Hurricane
and the stunning silver Spitfire
However, the highlight of the RAF's contribution
as well as the show as a whole
was of course the Red
Arrows. The team performed
on both days in very favourable
weather bringing the whole
seafront to a stop with their
awesome display of formation
aerobatics. The team are supported
on the ground by their own cameraman
and Red 10, Sqn Ldr Graeme Bagnell.
Red 10 is the team's ground
safety officer and commentator.
They arrived at Clacton Aero
Club by Squirrel helicopter
for each day's display.
There was more formation aerobatics from The
Blades, a team
formed of former Red Arrows
pilots. The team fly the
Extra 300LP aerobatic
training aircraft and are the
world's only accredited aerobatic
airline. They are kept busy
with corporate enetertainment
and experience days throughout
as well as a full summer schedule of
air displays up and down the
Another team which have been regulars at Clacton are
the world only formation wingwalking
display team Team
Guinot. 2009 marks the
end of the Guinot brand's association
with the team which always provide
a hugely entertaining display
wherever they appear.
The last of the civilian display teams to appear at
Clacton was the Swift
Aerobatic Display Team with
their unusual mix of SA1100
Twister, S-1 Swift Glider and
PA25 Pawnee tow-plane.
Clacton is an unusual venue
for the team as the glider cannot
land at the display site. However,
the proximity to Clacton Aero
Club does mean the Glider can
be released to perform some
stunning aerobatics in the hands
of Guy Westgate over the
sea before gliding into land
at the airfield. He was supported
at Clacton by Peter Wells flying
the Twister and Jon Gowdy in
A very apt participant was the PBY-5A Catalina
from Plane Sailing at Duxford.
The "Cat" had just
returned from a short summer
tour of some Scandinavian airshows.
The aircraft wears the colours
of a OA-10 Search and Rescue
aircraft assigned to the US
Army AIr Force based in Suffolk.
Sadly, the Catalina does not
perform landings on seawater,
but is often operated off fresh
Joining the Catalina was Peter Teichman in his wonderful
P-51D Mustang Jumpin'
Jacques. The Mustang
is always an impressive performer
with plenty of noise from it's
Merlin engine and the characteristic
howl caused by the open gun
ports on the aircraft's wing.
Making the biggest noise though was the Hawker
Hunter F58a Miss Demeanmout
flown by Jonathon Whalley.
Jonathon's displays uses the
aircraft noise, agility and
stunning profile to really capture
the audience's attention throughout
There maybe little to interest the hardcore enthusiast
at Clacton, but the air display certainly has a little bit
for everybody and remains very
popular. For the photographer
there's a number of different
vantage points from the Pier
to the Martello Tower to capture
the action from. Planes TV also
covered this years and you can
watch the highlights here.
Flightline UK would like to thank Ray Thilithorpe
of TSA Consulting Ltd