FLIGHT fans and organisers remained positive about this year’s Airbourne, despite a delayed start due to fog, fewer activities on the Wester Lawns and no Red Arrows to wow the crowds.
A sea mist descended across the town as the popular annual airshow was due to begin on Thursday morning (August 9) but conditions appeared to be improving as the Herald went to press late in the afternoon.
The forecast for the weekend is good with temperatures rising and hopefully providing a blue sky back-drop for this year’s show.
During a flightless morning the Herald caught up with Phil Bird, Hawk T1 pilot who was due to take to the skies at 2.30pm.
He said, “We need to be able to see the horizon and when there is fog like this that is impossible.
“In this weather you would have no idea where you were.”
Pilot Phil spoke to the Herald yesterday morning and added, “I expect there are a lot of nervous organisers right now but the forecast looks good for the rest of the show so it should be a great weekend.”
The crowds filled the time by wandering around the many attractions on the Western Lawns and Wish Tower slope.
Children took part in challenges at the Army and Navy stands and were also shown equipment by the servicemen and women.
However there were less activities this year because the RAF was unable to attend because of its Olympic commitments. This meant there were less planes on the Western Lawns for children to try out for size.
Some families had noticed the change but were still enjoying the event.
Cllr Neil Stanley said, “This is just an extraordinary year with the Jubilee and the Olympics.
“I think this year has been different for everyone but we have got the Olympics big screen in Princes Park so it will be wonderful for everyone to go down there when we finish up here and see the fireworks display - it will be fantastic.”
The Red Arrows shunned Eastbourne this year in favour of flying over the Red Square in Russia and many Airbourne visitors said they were disappointed because the world famous display team is usually Airbourne’s star attraction.
Cllr Stanley added, “You can’t hold it against them.
“Who would turn down flying over the Red Square?
“We will welcome them back next year.”
Cllr Stanley said the Vulcan, Chinook and the Blades, which are flown by former Red Arrows pilots, would all provide an excellent show for Eastbourne.
The Blades have been billed as this year’s alternative to the Red Arrows and the team is coming to Eastbourne this year with a world record to their name.
The Blades performed no less than 26 formation loops in a row to get themselves in to the record books, so Eastbourne is looking forward to a thrilling display this weekend.
First up on the packed programme of flights was due to be the Royal Navy Raiders Parachute Display Team, who will land on the town’s beach on all four days.
Dave Day spoke to the Herald ahead of his jump and said, “It is very risky and during a display you are seven times more likely to have an accident because the landing space in more compact.
“I have done more than 300 jumps but I still get nervous. If I didn’t get nervous there would be something wrong with me.”