20th Anniversary Shoreham Battle of Britain Airshow


Static Park
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American Air Power
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Team Guinot
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Spitfire Finale
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Shoreham Airshow has gone from strength to strength in the last few years building a reputation for it's unique garden party atmosphere set against a large flying display full of the UK's top display acts. It's amazing to think that just 20 years ago the event was a small fete in the corner of Shoreham Airport. Those 20 years have seen considerable change, not least a change in display line and growing support from the wider air display community. The 20th Anniversary event promised some special surprises. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK  reports. Photography copyright of the Author.

20th Anniversary DVD

Launched at this year's show was a special DVD celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the event. The film has been collated by Stephen Makin of Laurel Grove productions. The film uses footage from a number of previous productions and most of the voice over work is done by long time Shoreham Flying Display Director and commentator Peter Eager. As you would expect from footage covering 20 years, the quality is variable as does some of the sound quality. However, proceeds go to charity and it's a superb reminder of the shows's history as well as that of all the different displays that have graced the skies during that time.

The DVD is priced 12.99 and is available from the Shoreham Airshow  Office - see http://www.shorehamairshow.com for more details.

Shoreham Airshow is held for the benefit of the Royal Air Forces Association, the largest single service charity in the UK that provides friendship and welfare support to any member of the Royal Air Force. There are 500 separate branches in the UK as well those overseas. In 2009, there are 79,000 members of which 600 are voluntary Welfare Officers. RAFA does not receive any direct funding from Government and raises a large proportion of it finance from the annual "Wings Appeal" and other events. Shoreham Airshow has become one of it's most important events of the year and it alone has raised over 1.5million. As well as RAFA, the airshow also supported the 'Help for Heroes' charity. The airshow is organised by volunteers from the Shoreham-by-Sea Branch of RAFA who spend much of the year working on different aspects of the airshow.

As with many other shows this year, the planning for Shoreham Airshow 2009 started just after the previous event had finished in 2008. After the show, the display is debriefed by the committee members including feedback from problems that occurred and the planning is started for the next season including new themes and fresh enhancements. The long winter planning period has just begun!

The show isn't just about aircraft, all the other facilities have to be booked or hired and then there's the slightly thorny issue of setting dates. 2009 saw Shoreham share it's display weekend with the four day Bournemouth Air Festival just down the coast. While at first glance this may seem a slightly foolish clash, it does have benefits for both events. One of the major benefits is that the shows can share costs, particularly on the most expensive display items which all become based within transit distance of each. It also makes it far easier for the RAF and other military display to support both events. This is crucial, particularly as military displays have dwindled over the last few years. The clash does not affect crowd numbers however as Shoreham and Bournemouth do not share catchment areas - indeed 2008 and 2009 saw record crowds at Shoreham.

Another winter task for the airshow organising team is getting sponsorship. The entire airshow circuit was suffering from the economic down turn in 2009 with event sponsorship being increasingly difficult to find. Somehow, like Bournemouth, Shoreham seemed to buck the trend this year. Sponsors did come and go, but the important fact was there were there! Any public event is an costly undertaking but airshows are one of the most expensive. Show publicity is another important task; posters and leaflets have to designed and programmes written. Regular press releases and updates are also vital to maintain public interest in the event.

It wasn't until early spring that the flying displays really started coming together with the allocations from the RAF events team and other military bodies confirmed to the display organisers. It is then that the airshow committee started to plan the flying displays knowing how much budget and time they have to play with. Even then it can take some time to confirm certain displays, particularly those that can only be paid for via sponsorship deals.

Harrier returns to Shoreham

A RAF Harrier finally returned to Shoreham following a couple of years absence since the final season of the Harrier display. The aircraft came from 41(R) Squadron at RAF Coningsby and was the pride of the static area. The aircraft was flown in by local pilot Squadron Leader Tim Simmons and the visit was masterminded by airshow volunteer Bob Franklin who maintains very good relations with the RAF thanks fo his "Boss Bear" fundraising Teddy Bear which was due to be auctioned after the event.

The week before the show saw the start on some frantic activity on the ground with the arrival of marquees and barriers. The Friday a week before the show also saw "Press Day" which is often the final push of publicity for the event. This year saw good interest from local TV channels with presenters flying with The Blades.

The Thursday and Friday before the show saw most of the exhibitors arrive for the showground as well as the display aircraft. Each aircraft and crew has to be booked in and allocated hotel rooms etc. Friday does bring it's own highlights. One that springs to mind this year was the return of a RAF Harrier GR9 from 41(R) Squadron. Running an airshow can be a fluid experience with plans constantly changing. Strong cross winds at Shoreham meant that many of the heavier warbird types diverted to Goodwood on Friday evening! The late change in plans means that extra transport had to be found to recover the pilots! Even early on Saturday, last minute problems will still being sorted out even as the crowds started to arrive.. The showground starts to fill rapidly and the crowds are already very thick along the crowdline as the start of the flying display approachesd It's show time!

The 2009 flying kicked off with a welcome return to the show. Tom Moloney has acquired a new BAC Strikemaster during 2009 and it currently wears the markings of the Kuwaiti Air Force. Tom's solo display  was very pleasing to eye with plenty of topside passes and lots of noise from the Rolls Royce Viper turbojet. There were further classic jet displays from the Vampire T11 from the Vampire Preservation Group and the Gnat Display Team with their pair of Folland Gnat T1s.

However, it was another classic jet that proved to be the highlight of the weekend. After last year's disappointment, the Avro Vulcan B2 XH558 finally made it's Shoreham debut. The sight of the massive delta turning over Lancing College was one of the defining moments of the show. However, the Vulcan's appearance wasn't without a little drama on Sunday. As planned the aircraft arrived tosouth of Shoreham and held out to sea as planned. Clearly visible to all on the ground, the Vulcan endlessly circled while Air Traffic Control tried to contact the aircraft to no avail. Attempts were even made to relay the display clearance through the pleasure flying helicopters and the inbound Chinook carrying the RAF Falcons. The problem turned out to be a mis-dialled radio frequncy!

One of Shoreham's longest supporting acts has been Vic Norman's Wingwalking team. 2009 is the last season for the team under the Team Guinot banner. On Saturday, the team gave their two ship display but Sunday saw another pair of Stearman's arrive for a rare four-ship display that filled the sky with aircraft, wingwalker and Smoke!

Shoreham's Scramble

Shoreham's Scramble is an impressive display in it's own right. Dads Army, Pyrotechnics and some superb flying from all involved have made this one of the most iconic set pieces on the display circuit.

More smoke patterns were provided by the Yakovlevs with their three Yak-50s and a Super Yak-52. The team have long supported the show at Shoreham and their display is always very welcome. Another team that has supported Shoreham ever since their inception in 2006 are The Blades. The Blades are all ex Red Arrows and provide a thrilling routine wherever they go!

There were also some local favourites on show. Justyn Gorman gave a superb account of an Extra 300L early on each day backed with music. Justyn offers aerobatic training in the aircraft along with his displays. The Swift Aerobatic Display Team are also a local team. Like many of the other teams, the Swift team were kept busy displaying at both Shoreham and Bournemouth. They also gave a competition winner the ride of their life on Saturday evening using East Sussex Gliding Club's ASK-21 glider.

A team making a very welcome return to Shoreham after a few years away were the Matadors  Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones have been busy in past years with their Red Bull Air Race commitments. However, with the slightly shorter race calendar in 2009, the team have been able to get around the display circuit with their pair of Sukhoi Su26 aircraft more with their remarkable mix of close formation and solo aerobatics.

Historic displays always form a strong part of Shoreham's line-up. The Great War Display Team brought the great dogfights of the First World War to life over Shoreham. Moving into the Second World War, there was an impressive collection of American air power. Rob Davies and Maurice Hammond gave an impressive account of their P-51D Mustangs. At the end of their display they joined up with B-17G Flying Fortress Sally B which was making a welcome comeback to display flying after two years of difficulties. Locally based company "Thunderprop" displayed their T-6 Texan and Peter Teichman's P-40N Kittyhawk was flown by Stu Goldspink. Peter Teichman also had his newly restored Hurricane IIb "Hurri-Bomber" at Shoreham which he displayed himself.

However, it is the "Scramble" that has become the iconic display of the Shoreham Airshow. This year no less than four Spitfires, two Hurricanes, a Me109J Buchon and a Me108 were involved in this quite brilliant set piece augmented by the unique "Dad's Army" re-enactors and some impressive pyrotechnics. In terms of big set-piece displays at airshows during 2009, we think this one just about clinches the prize for the best of the year with Charlie Brown's virtuoso solo display in the HAC Spitfire V as it's emotive finale.

Of course, the show would not be same without involvement from the current armed services. Special mention must go to the Royal Navy Black Cats who were on top form at Shoreham with a very impressive rendition of their 2009 display. The Army were represented by the Red Devils parachute display team on the Saturday dropping from their own Islander aircraft.

The RAF showed strong support for the show with all the solo displays appearing over the weekend. The only item to be based at Shoreham for the weekend was the Tutor T1 flown by Flt Lt Bill Ramsey. He was joined by Flt Lt Matt Barker in the Hawk T1, Flt Lt Leon Creese & Flt Lt Chris Enright in the King Air B200 and Flt Lt Scott Loughran in the Typhoon FGR4 all operating from the slightly longer runway at Bournemouth. The RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team also appeared on the Sunday bringing with them an extra surprise display - the RAF's Chinook HC2 which went on to give it's ever extraordinary solo display. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight have been supporting the show ever since those early days as a fete. Despite some technical problems with their Spitfire, the Lancaster and Hurricane still appeared with the Hurricane landing on at Shoreham to stay Saturday night. The Hurricane wears some impressive special marking commemorating the 65th anniversary of PZ865.

The icing on the cake for the 20th Anniversary was a flypast by the Red Arrows who re-routed their transit from Denmark to Bournemouth. Once again Shoreham Airshow was a highlight of the display season. The unique garden party atmosphere and fantastic flying make Shoreham one of the top events on the air display calendar and the South Coast. Shoreham Airshow returns in 2010 over the 21st-22nd August celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the 100th Anniversary of Shoreham Airport.

The Atmosphere
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Classic Jets
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History in the Air
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Modern Air Power
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