I have always loved planes all my life the power, thrust, speed everything about them and I especially love unique planes and air shows are the best places to go for the unique planes and today on the 10th of September was the Southport air show and was the perfect opportunity for me to go and watch a few of the best unique planes in the world. I have literally just got back in from the air show and I am on my computer writing a review on it because I think it was so stunning.
-*-*- A little history about the place -*-*-
Southport has been a great location for all the family since the Victorian times and I don't know how long the air show has been going but my Nan says when she was a child it was going and that was about 70 years ago, as I just mentioned Southport is a great place to go for all the family and Southport has a beach I admit it might not be the best in the world but it's a beach and that's where they hold the air show.
-*-*- Southport air show oh and the army. -*-*-
Southport air show has been for the past few years connected with the army but it has always been Southport Air show, this year was no different except for the official name, this year its called Southport Air show and military display and boy do they live up to their name. First off, I'm sure there was a lot more army people on the ground than there were spectators! Also on the ground there is normally stalls and stuff but this time there was a few stalls but most of the beach was taken up by army tanks, weapons and firing ranges. Now obviously I didn't complain at this (and before I go any further, if I use the term "army" I mean the TA, navy, air cadets all sorts.)The army had a whole range of things to do on the ground including freefalling (well actually it's not freefalling but it really does feel like it.), they had a lot of paint balling ranges, abseiling, rock climbing go into tanks and a whole load of things to do.
-*-*- Other stuff on the ground -*-*-
There was other stuff to do on the ground apart from going on all of the army stuff they had to offer the other things include winning a greatly oversized cuddly toy and you have to buy tickets and make 21 or something I didn't have ago at that because it is really expensive. Another popular thing on the ground was a few exhibitions they had to offer, a few of them were quite interesting if you went in but others was a great waste of time. If you live in the north-west area then you might of heard of a radio station called rock fm and they had there their thunder truck there, where they broadcast live from there and they had a live stage set up and had different bands playing which was quite good, And obviously on the ground there are cafés and little burger vans but as you may expect these are a bit expensive so if you do go I recommend you take a packet lunch or a little picnic style thing, I will give you an idea of the prices like £1.50 for a can of coke £2.50 for a portion of chips that are really little and £4.50 for fish and chips but the fish is like 15 cm long very tiny.
-*-*- Time to kick off with the air show -*-*-
If you do decide to got o the show the actually show starts at 9am which is quite early but for three hours there are model planes whizzing about all over the place but they are quite cool to watch but after a while they can get quite a bit boring. The main part of the show starts around 12ish (the main part is the real aeroplanes.) Today on the Southport air show there was the following aircraft doing demonstrations:
Sea King - This aircraft is a helicopter and came to the show a few times for demonstrations. This aircraft belong to the army and as you can expect they would be doing a little more than just flying a helicopter and taking it to its limits, the helicopter was picking up vehicles (organized vehicles) and moving them to the other side of the beach, they were letting down ropes and soldiers were dropping out of them and then climbing back up to the chopper this was an amazing sight. The army really did a good job with this demonstration.
The blue arrows - You may not of heard of these before, well its almost a certainty that you haven't because these guys are quite new. As this is an air show you would expect to see things in the air wouldn't you? Well you did but these guys were on the ground, they were stuntmen on Suzuki Endoro machines (A very fast motorcycle.) They were phenomenal they were very daring. They first drove very close to each other first of all then they added small ramps and went very close to each other in the air. And then they progressed to larger ramps which by this point were really amazing and if that's not enough just to add the icing on the cake they set them on fire! And guess what? These lads were army lads just proves that the army is great place to be.
Local Competition - As I mentioned earlier this was meant to be air show there was another thing that was on the ground and surprise surprise it was the army again which was organizing this. It was a running race between Liverpool, Manchester and Bolton and it was dead easy all they had to do was run across the beach and the first one to run a mile won for there town. Oh yeah I forgot to mention they were pulling a three tonne gun behind them as well and it was a race. And I'm not going to tell you who won.
RAF Falcons - This for me was one of the highlights of my day the RAF Falcons, these were greatly talented group of people who jumped out of a Hercules plane which is a very big one, and opened their parachutes and fell from the skies to the beach in formation which was a truly stunning sight to watch. Another thing which was good about this was that they played James Bond music which was a nice touch.
Sea Vixen - This was the first fast and loud plane that came to the show and it was a great plane to watch the sea vixen. The Sea Vixen was made in France and it sponsored by Red Bull it is a stunning plane because it is very streamline and I also liked this because of its unique end because its connected together (you will see what I mean if you look at the pictures later.) The maximum speed of the great sea vixen 661 knots and if you don't know how to convert that let me do it for you ..VERY FAST!
Harrier GR7 - This plane has been around for almost 30 years now (not this specific one but harrier in general) and people are saying that this beast is getting a bit too old to fly. In my opinion I think it has another 30 years flying it is such a great air craft. This was another great part of the day because of its ability to do a range of things including turn 360 degrees each way the power of the beast the noise it crease with its massive engines the ability to take off vertically and drop bombs (but they obviously didn't do that here)
Wing Walkers - The famous world war bi-planes are great things you know what they say the old ones are the best and this plane is no exception apart from that they are painted with the utterly butterly logo and there are girls standing on the wings doing summersaults and all sorts of funny stunts hence the name wing walkers. This was not the best part of my day but this was certainly one of the highlights and was very amusing to watch.
Hawk T1 - This has also been a great plane (as you can probably see I like a lot of planes) but the hawk was a very very loud and fast plane, in fact the top speed of the hawk aircraft is 622mph which is very fast another factor of this plane that I liked is the decoration of the flame on the nose of the plane and when its coming at you it really looks special.
Sukhoi SU26 - Before I went to the air show I had never heard of this plane before but I decided through its act that this was another great plane. This is not a very fast plane but is an aerobatic plane and it done very good stunts you may of seen some aerobatic planes do the normal tricks like loops and soaring up high and turning the engine off but this one apart from doing all that was a special show because of one trick, and that trick was he soared high and used the eject seat and you saw one of the captains come down with a parachute whilst the other took control of the plane. This plane is sponsored by Honda which is a good manufacturer.
The jaguar - This WAS the best bit of the day the famous jaguar. I have known this aircraft for a long time and this plane attracted people from all over the UK to come. As I mentioned earlier the army was at the air show and as the jaguar was a fighter plane they combined forces and the army had planted mines underneath the sand. Just as the jaguar flew over where the mines had been planted the army let them off and can I tell you this was totally stunning a simulated bombing timed to perfection from the pilots and the army team there was black smoke around for ages and this was the best part of the day.
-*-*- Other parts of the day + disappointments of the day -*-*-
Obviously there was a lot more aeroplanes flying around but I didn't see them all because I was probably somewhere else like at expeditions or something. The biggest disappointment of the day was definitely the red arrows not being there as they were on the Sunday. And what's an air show without the red arrows? Well, although the (red) arrows were not there it was still a truly great an amazing show and I would recommend to everyone!
-*-*- Event partners -*-*-
Pleasureland - Next to the beach is a fairground with the world famous TRAUMAtizer and a few other great rides. This year was the first official year the pleasureland was the official sponsors and they done various offers like if you go to the air show get a wristband half price, but then you won't have the fun of watching all of the planes, in the program they also had a few offers that you could tear out.
Rock FM - I have briefly described who rock FM are earlier, they are a radio station based in Preston, the station is very popular around the North - West but the station is like marmite you either hate it or love it and I for one love it. They played a great part in the organization of the air show because they providing live acts for those who didn't want to watch the planes (why wouldn't they want to watch the planes?) But anyway they really did help a lot.
Army - I think I have talked about the army more than I have planes in this review and I'm sure you can gather from what I have said from the letting people control big machinery, freefalling, and the simulated bombings that the army have played a really big part in this well done.
There was other event partners like local newspapers the council and so forth and I'm sure they helped make it all happen. I would just like to say from me thank you for making my day.
-*-*- The prices -*-*-
As I'm sure you have gathered the show was a big success and I'm sure they made a lot of money too because of the prices for things. It was £6 for a pedestrian to get in and £22 for a car and all of its occupants. And the programme was £3. So the prices was a bit high but it was all well worth it.
-*-*- My conclusion -*-*-
I'm sure I don't need to write anything in this section because I have said it all in the review but I will conclude. I thought this was one of the best air shows that I have ever been too, I can tell a lot of hard work has gone into this show and I could tell. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, I hope you have enjoyed reading this review as I have re-living the memories of a few hours ago. That's all I have to say I'm afraid, apart from I hope to see you there in 2006 a great day out for all the family.
Once again thanks for reading
We decided to have another jaunt out on Saturday and headed for Southport just off the M62 near Blackpool. I stayed there for a few months 10 years ago whilst I was learning to fly at the local RAF base and going back unlocked a few memories. I cannot offer a comprehensive guide to Southport as there are a lot of things to see and do, so I have only really covered the things we did as an example of what this reasonable resort has to offer. Southport Model Railway Village *************************** I remember being awe-struck by this as a toddler as trains whizzed by model farmhouses into the village centre. Returning as an adult I could see what it was that so enthralled me as a youngster. Although I was somewhat less bewitched now, since my eyes are more critical now than they were as a child. The houses do have detail to them but some of them look out of scale when compared with others and the detail although very good is not as breathtaking as it once was. The whole effect is slightly marred as the whole set is built around a small lake with real ducks swimming along side trains half their size. People that take video cameras could get some bizarre footage which could easily be mistaken for a ludicrous sixties B Movie. The cost is reasonable £3.50 adults, £2.50 kids, (under two year olds get in free) and kids will absolutely love it. There is a tourist information booth on the main road near the entrance where you can pick up a leaflet, which will save you 10%. You can buy a family ticket for £9.00 and stay in as long as you want. Southport Zoo ************ You may have to fight your way past protesters to get in through the gates. At the moment they are campaigning every Sunday and Bank Holiday to have the zoo closed down. Their complaint is that they say that many of the animals are kept in confined solitary confinement with no stimulation. They also believe that it is cruel to have the zoo in
close proximity to the roller coaster which is adjacent to the plot and which goes past every four minutes. I was unaware of this before we got there but objected to the manner in which the protestors came towards us in an accusatory fashion. The woman that approached me was extremely confrontational and annoyed me instantly. If she had been reasonable, I would have heard her arguments and possibly decided against visiting the zoo. As it was, her insulting tone, was enough to convince me to go into the zoo even if I had been a passer by up until that point. I advised, to her dismay that I would rather see the zoo and make my own mind up. I may have inadvertently used a few colourful metaphors to point out that that she was a snotty cow that did a probably worthwhile cause no justice by alienating the very people who’s trust she sought to gain. The zoo itself is not good to be honest. It is very small and would probably fit into one of the larger enclosures at Chester Zoo. It costs £4.00 per adult, £3.00 per child and bags of animal food are £1.00 a bag. It is not well set out as you find that you are in a maze of cages, badly sign-posted and you have to constantly stop and try to remember whether you have already been down a particular path. The animals to be fair did look depressed although I cannot say with any surety whether this was just a feeling I got because of the doubt the witch at the entrance had managed to plant. We saw a two Snow Leopards, a lioness, a couple of porcupines, a group of guinea pigs, a lone chimpanzee, a few parrots, chickens, a few snakes and spiders, a herd of goats, a few spider monkeys and other monkeys and a couple of old donkeys. So the range of animals wasn’t great considering it was a zoo. The animals were quite confined in comparison with the space they would have at Chester Zoo and in fairness I did find myself feeling a little sorry for them. I think they would be far better off a
nd happier if they were allowed to move to one of the bigger zoos. We spent a lot of time feeding the goats and guinea pigs who were quite happy with their lot in life and then we left. The same protestor came marching towards me with a look of anger on her face, which once again annoyed me. “Can I ask you how you enjoyed your visit to the zoo?” she barked with a sour expression on her face. I replied “it was alright” thanks, but I had lied just to annoy her because it was quite far from alright. I just think the campaign will stand a far greater chance of achieving their goals without people like her on their side. Open Top Bus Tour **************** Just near to the pier is a tourist information shack and leaving from there every hour or so is an open top bus, which drives 20 miles around the town. It is the best way to see the whole town and the driver was a good humoured middle aged guy who knew an awful lot about the area, buildings and history of Southport. As the bus was on quiet stretches, he would tell jokes over the loud speaker and when we got to points of interest, he would provide great information and anecdotes about the point, which made for an enjoyable trip. The price was only £2.00 for adults and £1.00 for kids and lasts for about an hour which is superb value for money and hugely entertaining and informative. There is a point at which you go up the coast road and he has to drive at 50 mph so you do need to take your jacket as it can get quite chilly on the top deck. Other Attractions near the pier ************************ The Pier Itself – The pier is a Kilometre long, which for you non-metric old timers is just short of two-thirds of a mile. It’s a nice bracing walk and there is a little café at the end. If you are lazy, a little train will take you there and back for 50p. It’s a nice view off the end as you can see Blackpool tower and t
he Pleasure Beach across the water. Pitch and Putt – There is a full eighteen hole pitch and putt course, its not very big but it is quite good fun for all the family. It can take about an hour to get round depending on the size of your party but the course is set out so it goes back on itself and is all condensed within a field the size of a football field so you won’t be walking for miles. It only costs £2.00 or so each so again its not bad value for an hours fun. Crazy Golf and Bowls – These are also a stones throw from the end of the pier and again offer something else to do. We didn’t actually go on the crazy golf, opting instead for the pitch and putt, but I think the price was £1.50 per person and it looked a quite fun course offering the usual frustrations. Theatre – The main Southport Theatre is near the pier although they don’t always have something showing. Even when they do, it’s hardly top billing with the likes of the Horton Weavers and the Grumbleweeds occupying the advertising boards outside. Nights Out ********* Of course, if you are single, footloose and fancy free, there are some great pubs, clubs and one or two good restaurants to be found, but you have to know where to look or you may not find them. The Carlton Pub on Lord Street, is the place to start. If you get there about 9 p.m. It’s huge beer garden will be filled with people starting their night off and you can just follow the crowd from thereon in. As far as eating is concerned I would heartily recommend the “New China City” restaurant which does a huge range of banquets and individual meals at reasonable prices. You can find this at 16-20 King Street just behind the Carlton Pub. Overall ****** It has all the other things that you would attribute to a sea-side resort, an amusement park, amusement arcades, boat rides, fishing trips. It does everything that
Blackpool does but Blackpool just does it so much better. If you want a day trip or you are on your way to Blackpool, then it is certainly worth stopping off here, but I think a day or two at the most will be all you’ll need before it gets a bit boring.