Record crowds enjoy Airbourne

Airbourne 2012 Friday August 10th 2012 E33047N The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Airbourne 2012 Friday August 10th 2012 E33047N The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

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THE Vulcan attracted record-breaking crowds to the 20th Airbourne on Saturday (August 11).

The seafront, Western Lawns, Wish Tower slope and even the Downs were packed with people wanting to catch a glimpse of the Cold War bomber.

The aircraft was the star of the show and thousands turned out to watch as it took to the skies.

At 2pm the car parks at Beachy Head and Five Acre Field became completely full for the first time in the show’s 20 year history.

Cllr Neil Stanley, cabinet member for tourism, said “I have never seen so many people on the seafront, we certainly had our best turn-out ever for the Vulcan.

“It was wonderful to see this huge gleaming hulk of a jet appear from around the corner at Beachy Head – simply amazing.”

There was some disappointment because the Vulcan arrived an hour earlier than billed.

Most people who wanted to see its flying display were already on Eastbourne’s seafront but some missed out because of its early appearance.

A council spokesperson said, “On Friday evening the Vulcan had to be reprogrammed an hour early for 4.13pm on Saturday at the request of the aircraft owners who were providing a last-minute display elsewhere.

“The new time was advertised on Friday evening on the Airbourne website, Facebook and Twitter and in the updated flying times which were printed and given out on Saturday morning.”

There were other hitches during the four-day event when all of Thursday’s displays had to be cancelled because of the mist.

Olympic commitments also meant the RAF’s replica planes were absent from the attractions on the Western Lawns this year and there were no Red Arrows to wow the crowds – but is didn’t stop the revellers from enjoying and supporting the event.

Cllr Stanley added, “Thank you to everyone who supported the event this year, whether by volunteering, donating or purchasing the programmes and radio headsets – it’s all helping us to keep Airbourne soaring high.”

The finale to the show was a spectacular fireworks display from the beaches opposite Princes Park, as the London 2012 Closing Ceremony was shown on the Olympics big screen.

Eastbourne residents Jo and Ian Parks who came to watch the fireworks with their daughters, Sophie and Zara, 10, said, “You’ll never get the closing of the Olympics and Airbourne all in one night so it’s good and it’s nice for our daughters.”

Brian White, who came over with his wife from Bexhill to watch Sunday’s closing ceremony, said, “It’s fantastic. We couldn’t believe how many people there were on the beach yesterday (Saturday).

“It’s great to see everybody together.”

Sarah White, who was at the event with her partner Jon Bligh and her three children, said, “I think it’s a fantastic end to Airbourne. ”

There is still time to donate or buy a special edition 20th anniversary souvenir programme. To buy or donate online visit www.eastbourneairshow.com or visit Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre or the Seafront Office.

Below: The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight E33047N