The best summer air shows in England

Image credit: Paul Hudson

The roars of jets, helicopters and vintage aircraft are returning to southern England as the region gets ready to enjoy some brilliant summer air shows.

Across Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire, and East Sussex, there will be plenty of high flyers, from classic wartime aircraft to modern marvels like the Red Arrows. The air show season starts in earnest from the late May Bank Holiday weekend and lasts through until early October. For an exhaustive list of air shows all over the country, visit britishairshows.com.

Following the tragic events at the Shoreham Air Show last August, this year’s air shows will be a little different to previous events. Organisers and pilots have instituted new safety measures to prevent any further tragedies. As a result of the accident, restrictions have been put in place on civilian vintage jet aircraft displays over land, limiting them to flypasts, and high-energy aerobatic movements have been banned.

For those of you spending a great cottage holiday in Wiltshire, Dorset or anywhere in southern England, here are some great local air shows to put into your diary:

Torbay Airshow

In its first year, this Devon-based air show is set to make a big impression. With the backdrop of the sea, the event is bringing a great mixture of hi-tech and vintage crafts. The Royal Navy Sea Vixen twin-engine jet will be on hand as well.

Another group set to appear are The Blades, a civilian aerobatic display team made up entirely of former RAF Red Arrows pilots. The festivities will take place from 10-12 June and will have great shows each of the three days. General admission to the Torbay Airshow is free and organisers promise a great vantage point from many locations around the bay.

Image credit: David Merrett

Weston Air Festival

On the Somerset coast, just south of Bristol, the Weston Air Festival will take place on 18-19 June. There are dozens of aircraft and performances set for an entertaining weekend. A Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is set to feature Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters. You can also enjoy a performance from the always-popular RAF Red Arrows.

The event will also feature a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B, a PBY Catalina Amphibian Sea Plane, a RAF Typhoon, and a P51 North American Mustang WW2 Fighter. The festival includes a number of stalls featuring food, refreshments, ice cream and licensed seafront bars. Activities on site include rides, a zip wire, mini tanks, static helicopters, and armed forces’ stands.

Image credit: John5199

The Chalke Valley History Festival

This week-long Wiltshire event is a celebration of living history with re-enactments and an amazing air show. The event takes place amidst the rolling hills in the south west of the county. It makes for a great venue to appreciate the country’s wartime history and aircraft.

The Chalke Valley event includes the display of many great historic craft. Among those scheduled to attend are the Avro Lancaster, the Fairey Swordfish, an Auster, a Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk, and a Hawker Hurricane. There are also some Spitfires planned along with a Vought F4U Corsair and a Yakovlev Yak-3.

Image credit: Andrew Thomas

Yeovilton Air Day 2016

The Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton will welcome visitors on 2 July for what is considered the Royal Navy’s premier air show. The Air Day offers thrilling flying displays and just as many great activities on the ground. The award-winning air show in mid-Somerset brings in more than 40,000 visitors.

Attendees will enjoy more than five hours of amazing flying – with high-speed jets, historic aircraft, helicopters, and aerobatics. The Yeovilton Air Day will feature a spectacular finale with the world-renowned Commando Assault Finale featuring troops, aircraft, and lots and lots of pyrotechnics.

Image credit: James

Farnborough International Airshow

Hampshire is home to one of the biggest and best air shows in the UK. The Farnborough International Airshow will take to the air during the weekend of 16-17 July. 80,000 are expected to attend this highly anticipated event.

There are many highlights to the event. Included are: one of the first European flights of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter; an appearance of the Airlander, one of the world’s largest aircraft; and an appearance by the RAF Red Arrows. Aerobatics are also part of the programme – including the Pitts Special, the Twisters and the gripping Breitling Wingwalkers.

Image credit: Dennis Cieplik

Airbourne: Eastbourne International

The Flying Fortress, the B-17 bomber, makes a return to the seaside. The Eastbourne International Airshow will also present a large-scale World War One aircraft display. From 11-14 August, organisers are promising a historic line-up of the RAF Red Arrows, a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and a Typhoon as well. There will also be an appearance of the Blenheim Bomber and a Chinook helicopter.

There is much anticipation for the Great War Display team. It will be a demonstration of 10 iconic aircraft in one special display. There will be an early prototype Sopwith Triplane as well as a Fokker Dr1 in the display.

Image credit: Airwolfhound

Bournemouth Air Festival

The Bournemouth Air Festival started in 2008 and more than seven million people have attended over the years.

From 18-21 August, spectators can look forward to the RAF Red Arrows on all four days and the RAF Typhoon. Excitement is sure to follow the Royal Navy Black Cats Helicopter Display Team and the Tigers Parachute Display Team. New for this year, the Swiss Air Force Super Puma Team will attend the event as well. With the Channel as a backdrop, the event is supported by a flotilla of Royal Navy ships and the excitement of Royal Navy and Royal Marine beach assault demonstrations.

Image credit: John5199

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