The Bournemouth Air Festival

The Bournemouth Air Festival takes place in August each year featuring air displays over four days.  There is no admittance charge to the festival and thousands of plane lovers flock to this Dorset resort on the south coast of England to watch the extravaganza, so this year we decided to join them and take a look for ourselves.

Bournemouth Air Festival
Army display on the beach

There are many vantage points for plane spotting, either from the cliff tops or down on the beach itself and along the beachfront we found many interesting stands and military ‘villages’ to explore.  Firstly we took a look around the Royal Navy village where we were able to see demonstrations of their land, sea and air capabilities and a little further on the Royal Marines had us enthralled with their amphibious beach assault.

Bournemouth Air Festival
Royal Navy beach assault

The Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Display Team is their display team which has been in existence since 1964.  Known as the ‘Red’s’ because of their bright red flying suits, the aerobatic team reach speeds of up to 600 miles an hour in their BAE Systems Hawk T1 jets and even if you aren’t a fan of aircraft, I can’t imagine anyone not being impressed with their breathtaking displays.  At Bournemouth this year the Red Arrows were scheduled to perform on each of the four days of the festival, weather permitting.

RAF Red Arrows, Bournemouth Air Festival
RAF Red Arrows

We were enthralled with their display, I find it scary to watch at times as it looks like the planes are flying towards each other at great speeds and there won’t be enough room for them to pass, but of course they do as they are highly talented aviators.  I enjoy seeing the vapour trails they leave behind, they seem to add impact to the display sequence for spectators on the ground but I gather they also allow the team leader to judge wind speed and direction more accurately than by other means.

B17 - Sally B Flying Fortress
B17 – Sally B Flying Fortress

Sally B is a 1945 built aircraft being the only airworthy B17 left in Europe.  The aircraft is based at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford and flies to air shows across Europe.  It was good to see the aircraft on display during our visit.

Breitling Wingwalkers
Breitling Wingwalkers

Another impressive display was from the Breitling Wingwalking team, the world’s only aerobatic formation Wingwalking team.  We watched them perform a breathtaking display of acrobatic manoeuvres and handstands whilst strapped to the top wings of the Boeing Stearman biplanes.  The manoeuvres over Bournemouth bay included loops, rolls and we even saw the Wingwalkers performing with the plane upside down!

The Blades Aerobatic team
The Blades Aerobatic team

Enthralling the crowds were The Blades, a British civilian aerobatic team and the only full-time civilian aerobatic team in the United Kingdom.  All the pilots are former members of the Royal Air Force, having all previously flown with the Red Arrows.  The team fly Extra EA300 two seat aerobatic monoplanes.

Pilot's bar, Bournemouth Air Festival
Pilot’s bar serving refreshments during the air show

Sitting out on the bay we could see the military flotilla – four ships courtesy of the Royal Navy.  One of the Royal Navy ships of the Royal Fleet Auxillary is even open to view during the festival and tickets are free, but sadly for us they were all taken within minutes of being offered online.  The trip includes a free boat transfer from Bournemouth pier to the ship so if we return to the Air Show next year we will certainly try to secure tickets to view the Naval vessel.  The weather was overcast but despite the lack of blue skies we enjoyed a very interesting day out and would definitely visit the airshow again.

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31 thoughts on “The Bournemouth Air Festival

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  11. Great Post and I was reading about this yesterday and whether I would say its my luck , the Redarrows where doing a flyby in Sg today and I had the chance to see them , however it was just a flyby and an orbit turn or something. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow this is amazing! I am really impressed with WWII planes that still fly and look like they just came out of factory. Feels a bit like a time machine, lets you see a bit of what skies looked like 75 years ago

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Always a pleasure to see the Reds. I work within the flightpaths of Scampton and Waddington, but still run to the window like a big kid when they pass!
    How do the grey skies compare with your recent Finland trip – have you noticed the difference, with the nights beginning to draw in?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Stuart! Yes, The Red Arrows are amazing to watch and you are fortunate to seem them pass by whilst at work. As for the grey skies – I do miss. The clear days of a Finnish summer but we have been home some time now to get used to England’s dreary skies!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It must have been marvellous. Did you have tickets to attend the garden party and concert? My friend was successful in getting two
      tickets in the draw and she had an amazing time with her daughter whilst we watched at home on TV! From my photos of the air show you can tell we are back in the UK with the grey skies!!

      Liked by 1 person

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