2005 Edition





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Show of Force
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The 20th Annual Southend airshow took place over it traditional May Bank Holiday slot. Over those 20 shows Southend has gained an enviable reputation for provided some first class air displays. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All Photography copyright of author.

Southend is the first in a series of large free seaside airshows held throughout the summer. Although these shows don't usually appeal to the enthusiasts as much as the airfield based shows, they still provide an excellent afternoon's entertainment for the family as well as those brave enough to face the masses. These shows are always heavily backed by the armed forces as they prove to be great for recruitment and public relations due to their wide appeal.

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2005's Southend airshow was not blessed with the best weather conditions; Saturday's show remained dry through it was rather cool for the end of May and remained cloudy throughout the day, although the cloud base was sufficent to allow full displays. Sunday saw brighter spell interupted by some heavy rain showers. The show wasn't without incident either. There was a scary moment for Will Curtis on Saturday when his Sukhoi Su-26 dumped oil after he opened his display forcing a rapid return to Southend Airport where he landed without further incident. He was back in the display on Sunday.

Typhoon Warning....

At last, an RAF Typhoon display after the limited role demos we saw last year which must have been frustrated to the pilots. Flt Lt Matt Elliot finally got his chance to show the public just what Typhoon is capable of. We have not be dissappointed! It's a really great display certainly to be a highlight of any show it attends. The display pilot and aircraft  comes from 29(R) Squadron, the Typhoon Operation Conversion Unit based at Warton at the time of writing although the Squadron will move to Coningsby during 2005.

The majority of displays were provided by the the RAF. Infact all bar four RAF display teams were present for the show. The show was opened on both days by the RAF Falcons. Sadly, it seems that 2005 will not see the Falcons using the smoke ankle pods nor a Hercules fly-by towards the end of their sequence. Despite this, it's still a great show of precision free fall and parachute skills. In complete contrast to the Falcons was the brute force of the RAF jets. 56sqn borrowed one of 11sqns jets for it's Tornado F3 display and it was good to see the Harrier GR7A return with a full display rather than a role demo which we have seen in the past couple of years. It as interesting to see the 41sqn Jaguar GR3A display two in comparision with the first ever full display by a RAF Typhoon. Training was represented by the Tucano T1 and 100sqn Hawk T1 displays. Sqn Ldr Mark Beardmore and crew from 28sqn provided a modified routine for over water - the John Deere Gator isn't seaworthy! The Battle of Britaim Memorial Flight provided the only real warbirds in the show as part of their packed 2005 programme cemmomorating the 60th Anniversaries of VE and VJ day across the UK as well as including a few european shows too! The Red Arrows  once again are the highlight for most people attending any major show and their full 2005 display certainly doesn't disappoint with new sequences such as the Cyclone! A poignant moment during their display is the Lancaster formation which is in tribute to Flt Lt Matt Jarvis who recently lost his fight against cancer having trained to be on the 2004 team. The Red Arrows charity for 2005 is once again MacMillan Cancer Research. The only other armed services in the flying programme were the Royal Navy. Once again the Black Cats are putting on an excellent display in their pair of Lynx HAS3s while a Sea King HC4 teamed up with some tough looking Royal Marines to end some local martime skirmishes!

Red Bull Gives You Wings....and a nice paint job!

Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones are back as the Matadors for 2005 with some new sponsorship from Red Bull. Like the Sea Vixen and their F1 team, the Matadors have been given an exciting new paint scheme, and a very patriotic one too. Both Paul and Steve compete as the only UK pilots in the Red Bull Air Race first seen in the UK at last year's Kemble Air Day and will be competing again in the 2005 series and at the UK leg at Longleat on the 7th August.

As well as the military, Southend also contains several famility favourites from the circuit. Not two but four Stearmans form the Utterly Butterly Barnstormers displayed each with an intrepid wingwalker on top. As well as the barnstormers, two other large civilian teams were at the show. The locall based Aerostars were once again at the show dipslaying just why they are one of the best formation teams in the world - for a team of part time civilians the display is highly professional and keeps action infront of the crowd at all times which even some full time teams fail to achieve. The Breitling Jet Team made it's Southend debut with it's six ship display, the first season they have put on such a display. Under the leadership of Jaques Botherlin the team has evolved since it's conception into the only professional jet civilian jet team in Europe and boasts a number of members from the Patrouille de France.

It was good to see a couple of big airliners in the show. Scotair are supporting Southend Airshow's own charity - "Airshow Aces" and displayed a Dornier 328 to great effect. Not to be outdone was DHL Cargo with it's Boeing 757-236F freighter conversion. This display will be seen at a number of events in 2005 after the success of it's displays during 2004 at Donington and Duxford. Both are welcome additions to the display scene and hopefully some other operators will follow!

Despite the weather and the odd incident, Southend Airshow was certainly an entertaining display that appealed to everyone including the enthusiasts which would often overlook such shows. Being a free seaside show, it's also unbeatable value for money.

 copyright Flightline UK 2005