Aldershot News & Mail
Crowds left dazzled by a celebration of flying
Not even the non-appearance of the F-35 fighter jet could dampen spirits as 80,000 fans enjoyed a weekend of worshipping aircraft through the ages
THE Red Arrows provided a thrilling centrepiece to the flying displays on both of the public days at the 2014 Farnborough Airshow.
On both Saturday and Sunday, mornings of close, clammy cloud yielded to glorious sunny afternoons, allowing the nine-aircraft elite team to joust around the Hampshire sky in their full aerobatic routine, to the delight of the crowds.
They followed a programme that included routines by aircraft from the pioneering days of jet aviation, as well as a display from the Breitling Wingwalkers, a nod to the barnstorming days of American flying in the 1920s.
Particularly poignant in this centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War was a mock ‘dogfight’ by a swarm of replica fighter planes of that era.
“This is the best dogfight display I’ve ever seen,” said Christopher Ogden, a truck driver from Maidenhead and aviation enthusiast.
“Then you look over and see the A380 taking off and it reminds you how far we have come.”
The double-decker passenger giant, which has an 80m wingspan, took off amid cheers from onlookers, and proceeded to execute a seemingly impossible display of tight manoeuvres relatively close to the ground.
Tammy McBride could not get enough of the long-haul carrier, despite living near Heathrow airport and seeing the aircraft every day.
“I’ve loved the A380 since the first time I saw it,” said the 45-year-old. “It’s got that lovely dolphin look when you see it from the front.
“I see it take off and land all the time, but this display is amazing.”
The two days of public access at the airport, which attracted 80,000 visitors, foll- owed a five-day commercial and trade fair, which began on Monday last week.
Shaun Ormrod, chief executive of the airshow, said the event had been ‘absolutely storming’, adding it hosted the prime minister as well as ‘practically every’ member of the cabinet.
He also said the special buy-one-get-one-free offer of tickets to all Farnborough residents had been ‘extremely popular’ after it replaced a system of offering free tickets to those living immediately adjacent to the airport.
He added: “We will always review these things, but I think from what I have seen [that] we will do it for many years to come.”
As well as marvelling at the airborne entertainment, the crowds crawled over dozens of static aircraft, from an old British Army gazelle helicopter to fighter jets from across the decades.
Sergey Rudakevich had arrived at the airport early with his eight-year-old daughter, Evangeline.
“I came here years ago and it’s great to be back,” said the 45-year-old antiques trader. “We have already had a helicopter ride.
“It was great – Evangeline was in the front seat. Hopefully when she grows up, she will be in the pilot’s seat. I love anything that is airborne.”
The model F-35 state-ofthe-art fighter was installed at the show after an engine fire on one of the jets in the US prompted authorities to ground the entire fleet, preventing its promised appearance at Farnborough.
Mike Brunnen, who works for a business that makes wing seals for Airbus aircraft, had travelled to the show from Portsmouth with his 13-year-old son Brad.
The 50-year-old said he was ‘ a bit disappointed’ by the absence of the F-35, but added the number of other warplanes on display made up for it.
The airshow concluded with displays from the elite RAF fighter aircraft from the present and past, with a deafening display from the ultra-agile Eurofighter Typhoon, followed by the sonorous roar of the iconic Supermarine Spitfire.
Flight Lieutenant Andrew Purkiss, of 437 Farnborough Air Cadets, was manning a recruitment stand on Saturday. He said he had dozens of expressions of interest, adding: “People who may never have thought about flying come here with their parents and get inspired.”