To organise a four day air festival with events on the ground and in the air, co-ordinating the military and private flight displays with the local airport, is a great feat. But that is nothing compared to the planning involved for families visiting or local households being visited.
Bournemouth Air Festival, now in its eleventh year, straddled the end of August and beginning of September, marking the end of the school holidays. With the generous four days there is a good chance of having at least one good flying day.
A clear day is perfect, heavy cloud means the Red Arrows doing a low level display and torrential rain grounds all the planes. This year we had four fine days and it was too hot at times. The only problem was where to watch from.
Wherever you are you will see some flying; young children on the cliff top will be happy just watching the planes fly by, some people sit in their garden, others go to Bournemouth Airport to watch planes take off and land. But to get the total experience you need to be between Boscombe and Bournemouth piers, on the beach or cliff top, to hear the commentary and see the centre of the display.
In Virginia Woolf’s novel To The Lighthouse, no one actually gets to the lighthouse and at the weekend I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get to the pier. Cyberspouse headed straight for the East Cliff with his camera and big lenses each day; as I only have a compact camera and missed all the best shots, I have borrowed some of his pictures.
For the rest of us Thursday was the beach hut day; convenient, a good view of passing planes or you can swim and watch them above you. There is one downside; every year the beach hut next to us is used by a family coming down to visit granny; she has lots of family, they are all odd and most of her grandchildren whine. The air festival family’s children have whined about everything in the eight years we have had our hut. Fortunately as they have multiplied they have spent more time spread out on the beach. The Red Arrows arrived at five thirty, the sun came out and the nine Hawk jets glinted high up in the sky as they made their graceful curves, swooped down for scary passes then signed off marking the one hundredth birthday of the Royal Air Force ( before that it was the army flying corps.)
Friday the visitors went into town to play crazy golf and enjoy the busy sea front. I didn’t even get to the cliff top as the garden needed to be watered and food cooked. I saw the Red Arrows from the back garden and got dinner early as Cyberspouse wanted to get back out for the after dark flying. Who is doing and seeing what and where has to be planned with military precision. The visitors went back to Bournemouth pier for the ten o’clock fireworks.
On Saturday the visitors were meeting friends and I went to the greengrocers and saw the Red Arrows from the front garden. I got to the beach hut for a late swim and on the way back up the cliff zig zag the Breitling Jet Team flew straight over my head. I stopped to watch their evening display and took pictures of smoke in the sunset. Dinner was late, but we had time to walk back to the cliff top to see the Saturday fireworks in the distance and enjoy the lights of Poole Bay all the way round to Swanage.
Sunday the visitors had to go home and I finally made it to the pier. The promenade was unrecognisable with fair ground rides, military stalls and food outlets; noisy and busy. It is worth hearing the commentary; what is flying, how fast, which manoeuvre.
Every year is slightly different; we always have at least one Spitfire, but the Lancaster wasn’t flying. Sally B was here again, but not the iconic Vulcan bomber or the Typhoon to deafen us. The Breitling team were on their first visit and they were terrific, at times within 3 metres of each other at speeds of over 430mph.
Friday Flash Fiction and Silly Saturday continue the flying theme.