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Clacton Flyers
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Clacton Flyers
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Another week, another show hampered by poor weather. Clacton Airshow is one of the smaller seaside shows held up and down the UK. It's also one of those few airshows to be held during the week and subsequently attracts a very different audience to some of the more mainstream shows. With the withdrawal of a number of RAF solo displays it's also had to change it's regular line up a fair bit to fill the afternoon. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports from a very grey Essex coast. All photography copyright of author.

It's officially been one of the wettest summers ever - and the photographs taken by the many airshow goers would seem to prove it. The poor weather has some strange effects on shows, not least the attendance. At Clacton, a thoroughly miserable Thursday without the Red Arrows meant crowd numbers were down. Come Friday, a slightly drier forecast and the Reds the promenade, beaches and pier were packed!

Unfortunatly for the show organisers, they were hot with a number of cancellations. The preceding weeks accident involving a member of the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team meant the team could not appear at Clacton. The weather claimed a few acts too. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight were unable to leave their Coningsby base for both days of the show and Thursday's poor weather claimed a couple of acts which did finally make it on Friday.

Always a feature of the seaside events are the RAF displays. With the loss of a number of solo display it was left to the training types to represent the RAF at Clacton with displays from the Tutor T1, Tucano T1 and Hawk T1 coping admirably with low cloud bases.

However good the solo displays, it is always the Red Arrows that steal the show and they never fail to disappoint the large seaside crowds brightening the skies with the coloured smoke and daring aerobatics.

The Royal Navy Black Cats visited Clacton for the first time this year and were right at home in the marginal conditions. Their close helicopter formations and crosses proving to be quite a hit with the crowd.

Despite the poor conditions, a number of warbird and historic acts did make it through to display at Clacton. Andy Gent put in a fine display in the Scandinavian Historic Flight's P-51D Mustang Old Crow along the seafront. Filling in for some of the cancelled acts was Peter Teichman in his beloved P-40N Kittyhawk operating from North Weald.

If there's one aircraft that will always brighten up the skies it's Jonathon Whalley's Hawker Hunter F58 Miss Demeanour. Jonathon's display was without doubt the noisiest of the day and pull some amazing wingtip vortices in the damp conditions.

Civilian acts always play a significant part in any seaside show. The Blades finally made it through the murk from their base at Sywell to display on Friday evening. Even then conditions were poor enough for them to have to cut some of their vertical aerobatics.

Team Guinot too made it through the mark to perform along the seafront to the appreciative crowds. The spectators on the pier getting a unique head on view of their display. Even when the conditions are as poor as they were at Clacton, the girls carry on waving and smiling!

However, special mention has to be made of the Swift Aerobatic Display Team who simply wowed everybody on both days. It was probably the first time a Glider has appeared at a seafront airshow and was possible thanks to the close proximity of the Clacton Aero Club's airfield just behind the seafront. In Thursday's really poor conditions they amazed the crowd with their display and surprise release at the cloud base while Friday did at least allow a decent display of aerobatics from Guy Westgate in the S-1 Swift and some solo aerobatics by Justyn Gorman in the Extra 300L.

Clacton's lineup may not be the most appealing on the display circuit but it certainly providing a good few hours of entertainment to the crowds on the beach. Pilots and Flying display organisers should be congratulated in managed to put together some fine flying displays in what were dire conditions at times.

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