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An Awe Inspiring Show for Amateurs and Enthusiasts Alike
Bournemouth Air Festival (Dorset)
Member Name: hanmillie
Bournemouth Air Festival (Dorset)
Date: 02/11/11, updated on 16/04/12 (79 review reads)
Advantages: FREE, Variety of Shows and Activities, By the Sea
The loudspeaker crackles with the announcement that the Red Arrows will soon be overhead. People wait with baited breath, breathing in the salty air of Bournemouth Sea Front. Overhead a pause, then a drone of aircraft; getting ever closer with each second. Finally a burst of red colour and nine Red Arrow pilots sour over the heads of us, the spectators. The planes bold against the brilliant blue sky with their flame red bodies puffing out coloured smoke to form shapes, a heart and a large arrow. This represents just a tiny portion of what we like to refer to as the Bournemouth Air Festival.
The Air Show ~
The Bournemouth Air Festival is a large event which has been held for the past 4 years and has grown ever bigger in the amount of spectators who attend and the quality of the aircraft that display. Every air festival to date has been held on the third weekend in August and has carried over four days covering Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday; however it is worth noting that the 2012 Bournemouth Air Show is being held on the weekend of the 30th to the 2nd September. Unlike a number of other aircraft displays around the country, the Bournemouth Air Show is held along the seafront, providing a perfect place for enthusiasts and holiday makers alike to enjoy the stunning scenes and to take in the sunshine.
Getting Here ~
Being based on the South Coast can make Bournemouth a somewhat challenging place to reach in the busy summer season. The main road into Bournemouth if you are coming from the North is the A338, a straight road which feeds off the A31. This is a dual carriageway and leads straight into the centre of Bournemouth with the opportunity to feed off into areas of park and ride as you get closer to the centre. All park and ride facilities are well signposted and allow you to drop the car and catch a bus directly to the seafront. Alternatively, you can drive directly into the centre of Bournemouth which houses a number of large car parks around Bournemouth gardens and additionally a range of family friendly hotels should you want to make a holiday of it.
There are over seven miles of sandy beaches at Bournemouth and the planes fly along the entire length. This means that should you wish to avoid the masses and find a quieter spot to watch you can do so either on the West Cliff or nearer to the East Cliff at Southbourne.
The Displays ~
As with all air craft displays, there is an element of weather dependency associated however, by and large Bournemouth has been blessed with some glorious weather to enjoy the show over the last few years. As the event is held over four days you do notice that a number of plane displays are repeated to allow for visitors to enjoy all the planes on the day that they chose to visit. A brief list of planes that you can expect to see are as follows:
* The Lancaster Bomber
* The Spitfire
* The Blades
* Sally B
* The Hurricane
* Miss Demeanour
* The Tigers Parachute Display Team
* The Sea Vixen
* The Red Arrows
* The Typhoon
* The Tornado
The displays are very varied and mean that at no point are you bored with the show. Indeed after a Red Arrow performance you might get a parachute air display or the amazing Wing Walkers. Unfortunately the large jets are highly weather dependent and therefore the Typhoon failed to display last year however the smaller planes more than make up for this. For a detailed list of the planes showing at this years' event you can purchase a timetable online at www.bournemouthair.co.uk.
Every display is introduced with a short commentary which details the type of plane flying, a summary of the pilot and what the plane was originally designed for. This commentary is usually given by an experienced pilot usually of RAF origin. In my experience this is interesting not only from an educational point of view, but also to give an outline of how the pilots themselves got into their occupation. These broadcasts are given through a network of speakers which can be heard all across the beach and cliff top.
During the show, the plane is accompanied by a musical rendition, usually of classic music in origin. This really gives a sense of occasion to the flight particularly at the showing of the World War II planes in which the music really adds to the significance of the planes history.
I have found the commentary to be highly participative, especially given that the entire audience are asked to clap after each performance, really adding to the show element.
Making a Day of It ~
As a resident of Bournemouth, I am fortunate to be able to walk to the show from my home. However, should you be travelling down from further afield there are a number of features that will add to your day. Firstly this event is held along the sea front, this means that you can enjoy the view from the beach if desired and enjoy the sea whilst watching the planes overhead. Being at the sea front means that there are a number of large hotels within a walking distance of the cliff top which means that you can enjoy the day and evening displays and make it a short break. A number of hotels do short break offers on this weekend, whilst if you wish to spend slightly more you can enjoy the show from a room facing the sea front.
The front is also littered with a variety of food and drink options including the hotels who feature barbeque events on this weekend. Bournemouth also has a variety of shops allowing a side activity if the weather fails. Should you wish to watch form the beach, there are a number of activities on the beach itself which include for a bouncy castle slide for young children, crazy golf and volleyball.
The Cost ~
The best thing about this air show is the price, it is absolutely free. This makes this one of the best value days out around and will suit the whole family.
My Experience ~
I have been to every one of the four yearly weekends that the Bournemouth Air Show has been running. Every year has been different despite the regularity of the planes and this is very much dependent on the weather as to who will be performing that day. I am not a huge airplane enthusiast, however even I love this show, it gets you feeling involved from the first day and you watch with awe as the various demonstrations ensue. Indeed some of the displays cause a shiver to run down your back as you watch the pilots perform 360° turns through the air. The commentary is brilliant, the food and drink readily available and the beach always packed to the gunnels.
This is a brilliant event held yearly in Bournemouth that not only is free to attend but also provides a variety of performances for all the family. I am therefore scoring this event 5 stars out of 5.
Thank-you for taking the time to read this review.
This review is also posted on Ciao under the same user name.
Summary: A brilliant air festival displaying a variety of planes yearly down by the sea!!!