seaside resort of Eastbourne, located between Hastings and Brighton in
Southern England, was once again the place to be for their annual airshow,
which became an international renowned event since the end of the 90's.
stays the biggest seafront airshow of the British Isles with, as each year,
an outstanding list of participants. Planned from August 13 till August 16
this major event receives, due to its excellence, the support of the British
Armed Forces in general and the Royal Air Force in particular. Sadly the
weathergods were not sofriendly on Thursday 13 and it was a real storm with
heavy downpour (a biblical rain as some interviewed people mentioned) that
struck the resort and 7,5 inches of water forced the organisation to cancel
the show. Anyway as the old maxim says 'after rain comes the sun'... and so
it did giving way to three days of aeronautical performances with the
higlight of this year on Saturday, the Avro Vulcan XH558, which is flying in
it's last year. Alas !
Those three days were very interesting and as you
already understood, the Royal Air Force flew various displays and was also
present with multiple exhibition booths at the seaside.
The display of the
Typhoon FGR4 from the 29 Squadron based at Coningsby was quite a powerfull one.
Also present was the Bae
Hawks T2 Role Demo from 4 Squadron of Valley, a
demonstration close to operational reality allowing to see this armed
version of the Hawk in its element. The Boeing Chinook
HC4 from 27 Squadron, a
well know airshow visitor, gave a spirited display despite the big size of
this helicopter. Nice and gentle was the Tutor
T.1 display of the 3 Flying
Training School (Wales UAS) together with its predecessor the Bristol
Bulldog. And one can not talk about the Royal Air Force without mentioning
their ambassadors, the Red
Arrows, concluding the flying display on these
three days. Perfectly mastered, the display is elegant and dynamic at the
same time where impeccable formations alternated with breathtaking crossings.
The Royal Navy presented a booth allowing the public to sit in the cockpit
of a Sea Harrier and a Westland Commando Mk.2 or Seaking HC.4 for the flying
part. This helicopter is rarely seen at airshows and one has to know that
the Commando of the Fleet Air Arm will be relace by the Merlins in 2017. The
display was flown in collaboration with the Eastbourne Royal National
Lifeboat Institution showing a mission at sea of her Majesty's Navy Commados.
The British Army displayed its parachuting team "The Tigers" of
the Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment. An awesome display concluded with a
sea landing. The public zone offered various exhibition booths and an
impressive Challenger 2 tank, dubbed "Charly 2" by the crews. It is common
to have some foreign military displays at Eastbourne and this year's was to
be the brand new NH-90 from the Belgian Air Component. Sadly the Belgian
particpation was cancelled due to operational reasons. What a pity... it
could have been a very interesting sight to have the NH-90 on display
overhead the sea.
are also demonstrations of civil teams and warbirds. The 2015 program was
again very attractive. First of all, the charm of the Breitling
with their impressive and smokey demonstration especially when the wind is
blowing from the open sea towards the shore...
Followed by the
highly professional as always. Let us not forget that they are former RAF
pilots and the mastery of their show nears perfection. In the new colours of
their sponor, black and silver, the display was just brilliant wthout any
off-time. In short, the Blades as we are used to know them. Known as well,
the RV8TORS, a dynamic duo flying this little airplane manufactured by Van's.
These pilots fly also warbirds and it is the second pilot of the team, Andy
Hill, who unfortunately crashed in the Hawker Hunter WV372 at Shoreham. A
French civilian team then, the Patrouille REVA flying a Long-Ez and two
Acro-Ez. These odd shaped aircraft ("canards") offered a dynamic and elegant
Again on to the warbirds, blending aircraft of the Second World War
and jets from the Cold War. The Supermarine Spitfire Mk Tr 9 of the Aircraft
Restauration Company, at first a single seater but modified into a
two-seater some years ago. This Spitfire with its elegant lines, although a
little bit startling with the second cockpit, was flown by John Romain, who
we had the pleasure to meet. Besides flying the Spitfire Mk Tr 9, John
Romain is also the display pilot of the Bristol Blenheim Mk
I, which can be
seen since 2015 in various airshows and it was the occasion to see this
aircraft, which took part in the Battle of Britain, fly overhead the waters
of the Channel as it did 75 years ago. Another mythical fighter with its
distinctive whistle is the North American P-51D
"Ferocious Franky". Property
of the Old Flying Machine Company since 1980, this aircraft is based at
Duxford. A magnificent demonstration with some beautiful seaskimming
In this year of commemmoration of the Battle of Britain, the BBMF
had to be present and this historical Royal Air Force squadron greated the
Eastbourne public with its Douglas C-47
Dakota, the Supermarine Spitfire Mk
Vb (AB910) and the
Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc (PZ865).
On to the jets of
Airbourne 2015 now with the former training aircraft of the RAF, the BAC Jet
Provost T.5 (XW324) owned since 2007 by Jeff Bell of Jet Aerobatics. Then
the Norwegian Air Force Historical Sqadron flying a Mig-15 UTI restored to
flying coditions in soviet colours. This aircraft is in fact a Polish
licence-build aircraft by WSK-Mielec (SB Lim-2) and wears a red '18'
representing the aircraft flown by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. This historical
squadron displayed also a pair of Vampires, a single seater
FB.52 and a
two-seater bought from Switzerland when the Helvetic Air Force parted from
this British fighter aircraft. Quite a nice sight those two aircraft with
their unusual Norwegian Air Force markings. The preservation spirit is apparently very present in this Nordic
great happiness of historical aircraft lovers.
And of course the undisputed
star of the show, the Avro Vulcan B.2 XH558, now, ad you know, in its final
farewell flying season before going back definitevely to its homebase at
Finningley-Doncaster, where it still will be possible to see this mighty
aircraft. Apparently the Vulcan is foreseen to do some high speed taxi-runs
as to preserve this icon of the Cold War and the Falkland Islands.
overview of the flying displays would not be complete without talking of the
"dusk" presentation on Saturday evening. Indeed the Aerosparx with Guy
Westgate and Tim Dews, a team comparable to the "Swip Team", flew their Grob
109B in a bright aerial ballet with some nice pyrotechnical effects
concluding the flying part on Saturday.
But Eastbourne is not an airshow
alone. It is entertainment, it is a party. One can wander around all morning,
visiting booths where predator lovers present their birds alongside the
booths of the Royal Air Force, encounter amazing people such as this Life
Guard of the British Household Cavalry, have your book signed by Tony
Blackman, a retired AVRO test-pilot (a.o. test-pilot of the Vulcan) or have
a passionated chat about warbirds with John Romain.
Eastbourne is also
merry-go-rounds and other sideshows and this year, the "Minions" were well
represented without forgetting the possibility to live the feelings of
flying with the Red Arrows or the Typhoon display in a simulator.
We could not resist to
complete our report with other pictures than those from the flying displays
alone as the mood is so astonishing and homey. A very nice way to combine
holidays and event coverage. The fair at Eastbourne lasted also on Saturday
night when, after the display of the Aerosparx, a concert was given on the
beach by "Scouting for Girls" actually scoring high in the UK charts. Great
mood on the beach concluded by a firework display, an always greatly
appreciated moment by the crowd.
Airbourne 2015 was once again a real succes
and we can only recommend you to pay a visit to the seaside resort during or
even outside this event.
We are convinced you will be taken away by the
charm and warmth of this place, as we were, with the view on Beachy Head
recalling the aerial fights overhead the Channel during the Battle of
Our SBAP-team wishes to thank heartly the media team Annie, Beth,
Matt and especially Tracey Drake, promotions manager at the Eastbourne
Borough Council for their always warm welcome and highly appreciated granted
facilities during our stay.
And now, on for 3 days of festivities, aviation
and music… told by the pictures…