Red Arrows to attract crowds to National Airshow

Mia and Oscar get in gear ahead of the National Airshow. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Mia and Oscar get in gear ahead of the National Airshow. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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ALL eyes will be on the skies at this year’s National Airshow as the Red Arrows fly in to steal the show and wow the crowds.

The annual event at East Fortune has secured its strongest ever line-up, with headliners the Red Arrows offering an extra special show to celebrate their 50th flying season.

This year’s action packed event takes place at the National Museum of Flight on July 26, and crowds of around 10,000 people are expected to attend.

“It’s a fantastic achievement to get the Red Arrows, especially with it being their 50th flying season this year”, says John Anthony, head of visitor operations.

“For them to be here is spectacular. They are very, very special and their game is to grip people.

“They also want to show people that this is what they could do if they wanted to become an RAF pilot.

“There’s the fun and thrilling side but there’s also the recruitment side. I’d like to think at the end of the day there are a lot of young people thinking ‘I could do that’.”

The Red Arrows will be joined by a stellar line-up of vintage wartime aircraft, including a Hurricane, a Spitfire and one of only two Lancasters in the world, from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

A supersonic Typhoon and a turbo-prop Tucano complete the RAF aerial line-up.

On the ground, the RAF presentation team will be in the Concorde Hangar, and a full-size replica of a Hawk, which visitors can climb into and look around, visits the airshow for the first time.

Other aircraft in the thrilling flight display include a newly-renovated Bronco, a vintage Tiger Moth, an Autogyro, an A1 Skyraider, and a UH-1 Huey helicopter. Crowds will be wowed by the performance of the Breitling Wingwalkers and the RV8ors aerobatic team.

The team at East Fortune has been planning this line-up since the end of last year’s show.

“There’s a great deal of planning goes into it,” says John, who has been running the airshow for the past nine years. “We have to put in our bids for each of the aircraft around about September/October. We bid for about 35 aircraft, knowing we are going to get about four.”

To commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the museum has organised an experience for visitors to show them what life was like at the aerodrome at East Fortune at that time.

Actors will be playing the pilots, the air crew and the ground staff. Visitors will also be able to see a First World War fighter plane being built on site and learn first-hand what it was like to fly the Sopwith Strutter in combat.

Ground entertainment on the day will include a question and answer session with ex-Concorde pilot Tony Yule and a multi-media musical installation by Drake Music Scotland based on the recollections of Frank Roberts, Battle of Britain veteran.

There will also be a presentation by the Lytham St Anne’s Spitfire Display Team, and a performance by youth music initiative Feis Rois, as part of the National Ceilidh Trail.

A large selection of food and drink stalls will provide refreshments, while the community craft and culture marquee showcases local crafters, and the family entertainment zone marquee includes acrobatic performances and circus skills workshops from the Aviatricks Team.

The museum’s hangars will also be open for visitors to explore.

“We are very family orientated and we also cater for the enthusiasts,” says John. “We have a lot of ground entertainment to keep the children happy.

“We want people to come along and have an enjoyable day. We just want to see everyone going away happy – that’s what it’s all about.”

Steve McLean, general manager at the National Museum of Flight, adds: “We have a fantastic line-up for this year’s National Airshow. We hope that more visitors than ever can join us to help celebrate the 50th flying season of the Red Arrows, commemorate the First World War, and be entertained by a packed and diverse programme of aerial displays and activities.”

Tickets for the airshow cost £20 for adults, concessions cost £18, and children cost £10 (under-5s free). A family ticket (two adults, two children) costs £50.