Having lived in Bournemouth for almost two years, there are probably only a few days a year that I’m proud of my beach-town. Yes, we have one of the finest sandy beaches in the UK.
Having lived in Bournemouth for almost two years, there are probably only a few days a year that I’m proud of my beach-town. Yes, we have one of the finest sandy beaches in the UK. But the beaches are often at the mercy of the weather, which, truthfully, robs Bournemouth of the coastal majesty it deserves.
However, during the last week of August, Bournemouth undergoes a major transformation. The beach is jam-packed with people, there are stalls from Bournemouth all the way to neighbouring beach, Boscombe, cameras are pointed at the skies, the roaring of planes inject new life into the town and the speakers on the beach are broadcasting commentary like it’s the 1970s. Only this commentary is to help the audience keep abreast with what’s happening in the skies.
The Bournemouth Air Festival took place from 30 August to 2 September this year and it was, undoubtedly, the best show in the festival’s five year history. This can be attributed to the fact that it was the first time there were night displays and live performances on the beach courtesy of Wave 105’s Corona Stage.
While loads of awesome planes like the Miss Demeanour, Venom, RAF Tornado, RAF Hawk and Vulcan took to the skies, it was the crowd-favourite Red Arrows that charmed the hearts of the people. They were down to seven crafts this year after two of their pilots lost their lives in the last year. Flt Lt Jon Egging lost his life at last year’s Bournemouth Air Festival, so it was a poignant moment when the Reds took to the skies and they did not disappoint, performing stunning acts of aerial daredevilry in impossible formations.
A couple of my favourites this year were the Breitling Wingwalkers. For people who think flying at such high speeds in the name of entertainment is tough, you need powerful binoculars to view the acrobatics by the Wingwalkers, who are aptly named. The other act I thoroughly enjoyed was The Tigers Parachute Display Team, four parachutists who jumped off their craft and landed safely on the beach to the rounding applause of the audience.
If the Air Show captured my interest last year, it was the dusk displays that truly stunned me this year. O’Brien’s Flying Circus lit up the sky with the full moon as the perfect silhouette as bright sparks from his wings illuminated the night sky. He was followed up by The SWIP Team Twister Duo – the blue and red fluorescent planes – shining in the dark as they trailed each other leaving colourful sparks in their trail. Truly magical!
There were also special displays like the Royal Marines Commando Assault, the patriotic Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the World War II re-enactment.
And who says all the major artists come only to the Bournemouth International Centre? Thanks to Wave 105, the Corona Stage on Boscombe Pier saw 10,000 people enjoy live acts like Rizzle Kicks, Newton Faulkner, Lawson and Matt Cardle over two days. Tickets were sold out quickly and with events such as these the Bournemouth Air Festival – already the biggest free air festival in the UK – is only going to grow in reputation in the coming years.
The dates for the 2013 Bournemouth Air Festival are confirmed as August 29 to September 1. Among other yet-to-be-named attractions, the Red Arrows return to their nine-craft formation for the first time in Bournemouth since the death of their pilots. I’m definitely looking forward to that!
Images courtesy of Squashed Ant Photography: