Clacton Highlights

2010 UK Airshows : REVIEW

Clacton Airshow 2010

Programme CoverThe Clacton Airshow may not be the largest seafront airshow in the UK, but it's a show that always had a charm about it. Compared to bigger shows, the atmosphere always seems a little more relaxed and it's a much easier show to get around being that much smaller! The venue is a hidden gem with a number of different vantage point within walking distance of each other such as the Martello Tower, the raised promenade, beach or pier!

Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of the Author.

The busy summer season comes to an end on the August Bank Holiday weekend. For many it's the last chance to get out and enjoy themselves before the school years starts again and everyone goes back to work. To extend the weekend, Clacton-on-Sea hosts its annual airshow on the Thursday and Friday before the weekend attracting tourists to the small seaside resort for a little longer than just the weekend. Around 70,000 attend each year for the small but perfectly formed airshow on Essex's sunshine coast!

On paper, the 2010 Clacton Airshow was its usual mix of military, historic and civilian participants that provide an excellent afternoon's entertainment. Sadly, like many airshows held in August the weather played a part in destroying the original plans. While the weather at Clacton was pleasant enough, elsewhere in the UK is was pretty dreadful. For Thursday many of the planned items were grounded at their bases under heavy rain and strong winds. The resulting flying displays on the Thursday ended up with long gaps with things were re-jigged with those items that had either cleared the weather.

To make up for a slightly shorter display on the Thursday, a number of extra items were added to the Friday display, particularly to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. This led to perhaps one of the best airshows at Clacton for many years.

One the unique aspects of Clacton are the vantage points for the display. Perhaps the best place to watch the display is from the end of the Pier which is very popular. This gives a unique perspective of the displays over most shows looking straight down the closer 50m and 150m displays lines used by the slower aircraft and is much closer to the 230m line used by the RAF jets. However, the beach in front of the Martello tower is another interesting location as is the raised promenade above the main beach and show areas.

Royal Air Force participation is an important part of any seaside airshow. Sadly, the Typhoon was once again unavailable for 'weekday' shows, but Clacton did attract both the Tucano and Hawk solo displays on both days of the show. But the most anticipated RAF display is that given by the Red Arrows and they did not disappoint with spectacular displays on both days.

Sadly, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight could not appear on the Thursday due to crosswinds at RAF Coningsby which put a dent in the plans to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain in the flying display. They did however make an appearance on the Friday with their full complement of Spitfire PRXIX, Hurricane IIc and Lancaster. Adding further the Battle of Britain theme on the Friday was the Old Flying Machine Company's Spitfire IX flown by Paul Bonhomme. The OFMC Spitfire was one of the extra acts brought in to boost Friday's display after Thursday's depleted display.

There was further 'warbird' displays from Peter Teichman who displayed his P-40M Kittyhawk and P-51D Mustang on the Friday of the show. Completing the line up of historic displays was Jonathon Whalley in his Hunter F58a Miss Demeanour. Jonathon make a spectacular entry on the Thursday with water vapour exploding off the surfaces of his wings as he ran in at speed from the south!

The Clacton Airshow also featured some of the best UK civilian displays on the circuit. The Swift Aerobatic Display Team were the first display on the Thursday using a Pilatus B4 glider instead of the regular Swift glider which had been damaged the week before at the Shoreham Airshow. Joining them were the Twister Duo flown by Pete Wells and Guy Westgate making their Clacton debut and made full use of the area between the Pier and Martello area for their displays! Another act that was able fit into such an enclosed area was Gerald Cooper in his CAP 232 who was another of the extra acts brought in for Friday's display.

Team displays came from the Breitling Wingwalkers and The Blades. Both teams were unable to make Clacton on the Thursday due to the weather inland but put in sparkling performances in on the Friday. The Wingwalkers are something of a favourite at Clacton regularly featuring on the show's posters and programme covers! Team pilot Martyn Carrington also is a local boy and learnt to fly at Clacton Aero Club just outside the main town which hosts some of the display items.

Clacton may have suffered a bit with poor weather elsewhere in the UK, but it certainly an enjoyable and relaxing couple of days on the Essex Coast. Clacton is a great venue to watch flying displays and also opens up a number of different opportunities for photographers.

Thanks to the Swift Aerobatic Display Team

What did you think of the show? Which displays did you enjoy? What didn't you enjoy? Let us know on our Facebook page!

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Clacton Highlights