We recently went to the Bournemouth Air Festival, to catch a sight of a few planes and choppers. The annual festival is a recent introduction to the British air show calendar, with the first event being held in 2008 – more than a million people turn up to watch. It makes perfect sense to host a big air show in Bournemouth. Firstly, the aircraft can do most of their manoevres over the sea, reducing the risk from accidents. Then there’s the plus point of having the show in a tourist hot spot, with all the facilities in place ready for an end of summer surge of visitors.
There are usually two stars of the show. The Red Arrows kick the event off with their high speed multi colour display. The finale a few hours later is the mighty Avro Vulcan. The delta winged bomber, which was a clear forerunner of Concorde, is an awesome sight. Just over a hundred and thirty of them were built in the 1950’s at huge expense, with a single purpose – to drop nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc cities.
The last of them were retired in the mid 1980’s. What did they ever do to justify all the money spent building and maintaining them? Just one actual, real bombing raid. Just one. It was a hell of a raid though. A Vulcan took off from a British airfield and flew all the way to the Falkland Islands before delivering a conventional dose of explosives on to an Argentine controlled airfield. The story of the raid is remarkable and worth watching – it’s on YouTube here. The Vulcan in the airshow is piloted by the same chap who flew that raid.
I shot a little bit of video from the airshow, and added a few photos to the album I created last year on Flickr. These days the Vulcan is flown rather sedately. It’s the last airworthy example, and once it’s gone, no Vulcan will fly again. A note on the video quality – at the end of the upload YouTube asked me if I wanted to ‘fix’ the video. Specifically to deal with hand-shake and lighting. I clicked yes. Why not? It fixed the hand shake pretty darned well. The lighting? Oh dear. The contrast fluctuates from hard to ridiculous, even blacking out at times. I think I’d prefer to have just the hand-shake fixed.