Eastbourne Borough Council hails Airbourne 2016 a triumph

The Red Arrows ... always a hit. Picture by Jon Rigby
The Red Arrows ... always a hit. Picture by Jon Rigby

Crowds packed out Airbourne as the free four-day festival enjoyed sunshine and flying in a successful attendance, despite a reduction in rail services.

With Saturday once again proving the most popular day, rising temperatures and a packed programme of flying brought the biggest crowds of the four days, as hundreds of thousands of spectators enjoyed highlights such as the Red Arrows, Typhoon, Norwegian MiG-15 and the long-awaited return of the evocative ‘Sally B’, the only flying B-17 in Europe.

Thursday and Sunday enjoyed similar crowd levels to recent years, with Friday proving busier than normal, thanks to an early Red Arrows display and a special ground visit to meet fans.

Additional traffic measures following the RMT Strike provided extra town centre parking provision, thanks to Gildredge House School and Eastbourne Saffrons Sports Club, while many of the public stayed longer into the evening, helping to stagger departing traffic.

On Sunday evening, thousands stayed to watch stunning twilight pyro-aerobatics from the Fireflies and X-factor singer Chloe Paige in a Heart-hosted evening of entertainment on the beach, with thousands more lining the seafront to see the firework finale, sponsored by Frontier Fireworks.

Eastbourne Borough Council lead cabinet member for tourism and enterprise Cllr Margaret Bannister said, “We are delighted that so many people have supported Airbourne this year, despite many concerns earlier in the week around the planned rail strike. Restaurants were bustling and pretty much every hotel room was full, as many visitors changed their travel plans to make sure they got here in good time.

“We would like to thank all of our third party partners, Emergency Services, contractors, volunteers and more than 150 temporary staff who assisted in the safe delivery of the airshow.

“The work, however, doesn’t end here. Our attention now turns to Airbourne 2017 as we begin to plan for aircraft bids in September in what will be our 25th anniversary year.”

Volunteer bucket collectors were in force during the show, with funds supporting both future Airbourne flying displays and three charities - the Children with Cancer Fund, Missing People and You Raise Me Up.

With collections organised by Don Perman and Steve Newman of Sovereign Harbour Rotary Club, assisted by members of the Rotary Clubs of Eastbourne, Eastbourne AM, Eastbourne Sovereign and Beachy Head, work continues throughout the week to count in all of the donations, which will help to fund next year’s flying.

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