Airbourne to get a taste of Dunkirk on 25th birthday

The Red Arrows will be back at Eastbourne during Airbourne
The Red Arrows will be back at Eastbourne during Airbourne

Eastbourne’s beaches will be given a Dunkirk experience next week as a Messerschmitt used in the blockbuster film features among the highlights of the 25th anniversary of Airbourne.

Fans will also be treated to three Red Arrows flyovers and a rare appearance of a Belgian F-16 Blizzard on the seafront from August 17-20.

Mike Marchant of Eastbourne council said the airshow had grown from a one-day event for 70,000 people in 1992, to today’s four-day extravaganza, which typically welcomes 600,000-800,000 people to Eastbourne’s beaches every year.

“The airshow grew over the years as we got more and more aircraft,” said Mr Marchant. “It’s always difficult to judge the numbers, but if you look from above on the Saturday of Airbourne you can’t see a stone on the beach at all.”

Organisers have also reassured members of the public they are working closely with emergency services to “put in appropriate measures” following the recent spate of terror attacks in the UK.

“Last year we had hostile vehicle mitigation barriers installed, and they will be in evidence again this year,” said Mr Marchant.

“Sadly, it’s the world we live in now, but we’re taking all precautions we need to make sure people that come to the event feel safe.”

But as the air show reaches its 25th birthday, it is placed under increasing financial strain.

The £35,000 raised each year in fundraising through bucket collections struggles to cover the cost of running the event, making it reliant on funding from Eastbourne council to contribute to operating costs to make up the deficit.

“We’ve already got the date in for 2018 and we’re programmed up to 2023,” said Mr Marchant.

“But it is supported by Eastbourne Borough Council and pressures of local authority budgets will continue.”