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Dawlish Airshow 2013



The Dawlish Airshow has moved dates the last couple of years, but is now back in its usual August month. The air day was on the Saturday 24th August with a supporting day on the Friday 23rd with many different attractions and activities to suit all, from Fair rides to Birds of prey. The airshow was celebrating its’ 10th birthday, from its very humble beginnings to what is now one of the best free seaside town airshows anywhere with such a dramatic backdrop.

Dawlish is a small seaside town on the South Devon coast just south of Exeter, with an estuary one side and rolling red sand stone hills on the other, this year it saw it numbers increase from 20,000 on a normal holiday day to over 80,000 for the air day, with the local car parks full by 9.30 and the local streets getting busier by the minute, there was plenty of free car parking towards Dawlish Warren laid on by the Airshow team. There was a real buzz about the town all day with the locals and tourists looking forward to the day.

The Lawn area saw a Spitfire parked up, which caused a few heads to turn, at Dawlish Warren just after 10 am on Friday saw the first arrival of the weekend with the army Apache arriving in what can only be described as a sand storm, where the ground was so dry after a very good summer.

This is one of only a handful of Airshows where you can watch the aircraft from above them, it really does give a totally different view of the show. Being in a valley, the view from either end or from the middle of the line is different.


From 10.30 Helicopters started to arrive at the “Smugglers” Field first was the Royal Navy Rescue Sea King, this was then used to give local Air cadets and Sea Cadets an Experience flight in the Sea King, This was followed by Red 10’s Squirrel helicopter and last in was the Army Lynx.

The weather forecast was good for all day with high level cloud causing no disruption to the days flying programme. There was, however, a stiff breeze from the North. Saturday’s show started off with the arrival of the Red Arrows who performed their full display show to everyone’s delight and satisfaction.

As regular visitors to the Dawlish Airshow (being at the seaside) both the RAF and RNAS flew Sea kings to demonstrate the working relationship with the RNLI, by rescuing a person taking them onboard the Sea King and then back to the Rescue Boat. A great display for any one who has not seen it before.

A new visitor this year was the Gloster Meteor, from the Classic Air Force, which is now based at the Cornish airport of Newquay. This meteor was the 20 year project and became the worlds oldest flyable British Jet aircraft. With some lovely flying showing off the beauty of such a lovely aircraft everyone was pleased to see her fly here.


The sight of two Breitling wing walkers over “Red Rock” was a lovely sight, and being where I was you were at the same height as them as they flew past on their many flypasts showing not just the skill of the pilots but also that of the two ladies “walking the wings” including showing how they can perform hand stands while the aircraft were performing their routines.

We had seen earlier the Red Arrows, visitors and spectators were now able to see the training aircraft that pilots in the RAF and Royal Navy use to get their fast jet training completed, the Tucano from 72 Squadron Linton on Ouse. It is used prior to training on the Hawk T1 aircraft at RAF Valley.

After a short interlude, we were pounded into an audible crescendo that can only mean one thing:- The Typhoon has arrived, it has been a few years since the Typhoon has displayed at Dawlish but it was worth the wait, with the roar of the reheats echoing around the bay it was an astonishing show that was put on and was enjoyed by nearly everyone, the local gull population were most put out but all the spectators enjoyed the display. With the Typhoon climbing into brilliant blue skies and then just holding the aircraft just above stall speed along the crowd line was great to see.

The vulcan was last seen in Dawlish at the 2009 Airshow where she flew with the Red Arrows, now she was here on her own, the cliffs echoed to the sound of the engines roaring as she done her routine so gracefully against the blue sea and sky backdrop. From going around the back of the Town and then starting the display from the Teignmouth end of the Crowd line she was majestic just showing everyone how such a giant of an aircraft can behave like a small jet with a gentle cruise prior to hitting the reheat button and roaring into the sky just to remind us all that she has 4 jet engines that are capable of so much.

With bad weather affecting the East of the Country on the display day, only one of the RV8Tors was able to display and show what is capable by such a small aircraft. With all the loops and turns being shown the crowds were enjoying the single aircraft display.

No airshow would be complete without the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and we were not to be disappointed the Lancaster and a Hurricane came in on cue for their display routine. With the red cliffs in the distance showing off the Lancaster, one could have been taken back in time with her banking over the bay towards Exmouth and just showing how majestic she really is. As becomes such an event everyone had a lump in their throats as the Lancaster done her routines so gracefully, and to think there is only 8 years between the Lancaster and the Vulcan it just shows how good British aviation engineering was. This was to be the finale of the airshow, but after the BBMF had cleared the airspace the noise of two RV8’s could be heard.

With both pilots and aircraft now in the display airspace the crowds were surprised by the late arrival of the second RV8 but were pleased when they were then given the full display which really showed off the ability of such a small plane to the crowds.

It is not everyday that you get two displays for the price of one and it shows how much the teams love to show at Dawlish with such a lovely backdrop to such a great day.

Kevin Wills and his team of hardy volunteers deserve a big pat on the back for this years’ event and I, for one, cannot wait to see what they plan for next year, all paid for by donations and fund raising by the small team that is Dawlish Airshow.

Review by Ian Birdsey
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