Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Marc Arys & Bruno Ghils - Translation: Marc Arys
© sbap 2015


The 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. 
It 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.


Airbourne are also demonstrations of civil teams and warbirds. The 2015 program was again very attractive. First of all, the charm of the
Breitling Wingwalkers Boeing Stearman, with their impressive and smokey demonstration especially when the wind is blowing from the open sea towards the shore... 
Followed by
the Blades, 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 display. 
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 fly-by's. 
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 T.55 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 country to 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. 
This 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 Britain. 
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…

 The ambiance of Eastbourne, just delicious... 




















 Heartly thanks to the media team Annie, Beth, Matt and especially Tracey Drake for the warm welcome and facilities 
 The wonderful airshow 

















































































 The magical atmosphere of the night... 







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