has been in the news a lot this year from the February storms
that wreaked havoc along the sea wall, some of the scars can
still be seen and tis has had an impact on the Airshow, this
coupled with the Channel 4 documentary about Great Western trains
has certainly put Dawlish on the map. This was to have only
one outcome – a huge turnout for the airshow, coupled
with 2 lancasters and the sea. Dawlish normally has about 25000
people of a normal summers day around the town and the campsites,
the estimated total for this years show is between 80 –
airshow has now really grown from a one day event to two days,
with plenty of activities for everyone with a “pre airshow
day” on the Friday followed by the airshow on the Saturday.
saw three helicopters land in the early afternoon at Dawlish
Warren, The Police Helicopter came in first and then had to
vacate the area after about 1 hour for the main arrival of the
day, the Apache, with the police Eurocopter landing back again,
the third arrival then landed, the Griffin.
people milling around the helicopters meeting the crews and
getting up very close and personal to the 3 helicopters. The
Eurocopter was the first to leave, followed by the remaining
2 about an hour later. Flying over to find its landing zone
was the Whirlwind helicopter, taking the scenic route to finally
land at the Smugglers fields on the other side of the town,
meeting up with the Griffin and an aerospatiale Allouette III.
One famous face was helping today and that was Angus Nairn from
the BBc series Motorway Cops, lending a hand with the landings.
the lawn area saw many different side stalls from RAFBF to a
few fair ground rides, a hunter cockpit was also on display
for people to view.
evening saw the Pilots party, where anyone can come and meet
some of the crews, and have a drink or two.
morning saw a few clouds come over and looked quite menacing,
but come noon the clouds started to disappear and blue skies
and high level clouds and thousands of spectators seemed to
appear from nowhere appeared.
down was the Royal Navy Raiders, the 5 parachutists dropped
from a RN Sea King, watching this from a high vantage point
you could see the drop zone on the beach. The only moment where
you almost heard a huge intake of breath was when the 5th parachutist
narrowly missed running into the sea wall as he landed, thankfully
there were a few inches between his face and the sea wall.
aircraft in was a Grob Tutor, not on an air cadet experience
flight but performing all the rolls and turns that any air cadet
can experience during an air experience session. Owned and operated
by Babcock, these small but highly agile aircraft are great
to be seen, this was promptly followed by the Tucano, the RAF
fast jet trainer. This carried on the rolls, turns and dives
that the Tutor had set prior.
on the heals of the Tucano were the blades, in their Extra EA
300L aircraft, these were also seen on the Friday practising
but also giving one lucky person a special view as the Red Arrows
flew over Dawlish.
Blades have become a regular at Dawlish not just on the airshow
day but also on their fund raising events held at Dawlish Warren
earlier in the year.
were ghasts of amazement from the people around at the sheer
spectacle of 4 small propeller driven aircraft performing as
they do. The stall turn, perfected to an almost stall, you could
hear the crowd holding their breath as the white smoke almost
hung in place as they went over the top against a lovely blue
sky. With crossovers completed not on the straight but on a
vertical climb. What a sight in seeing the 4 blades flying in
formation and displaying against a blue sky with the sea as
the only backdrop.
the new to the old, as we were taken back to the fast jet age
with the Jet Provost T3, flown by Neil McCarthy, this was his
debut at Dawlish, having flown down from his base at Newcastle
airport. This former trainer aircraft was put through its paces
with many fast passes and climbs out of the bay up into the
still blue sky.
as it is on the coast, has regular search and rescue helicopters
in the area and being not far from Lympstone Royal Marine Training
camp they are not an unusual sight, but to see the RAF Sea King
perform what it does best in searching for, then deploying and
then taking back onboard the winchman after being dropped off
into an RNLI inshore rescue boat. Standing high above the sea
king you get a very different aspect view of both the rescue
and the sea king before it banks sharp left before the red sandstone
cliffs. You are really on eye line with the pilots at this point.
Red Arrows, as expected, were spot on time at 2pm from across
the town to the sea front, performing a spectacular entrance
trailing the red, white and blue smoke. Standing on a high level
area, you feel as though you are at the same height as the Hawks
as they pass each other on the low level passes that everyone
loves to see and with the roar of the engines echoing along
the cliff faces it is always something special seeing them at
Goodwin returned this year with his Pitts Special “muscle
biplane” and really amazed everyone with his display,
he had altered his display slightly, as with no runway to take
off from and turn the plane to 45 degrees, rather this time
he just flew the plane parallel to the sea at 45 degrees angle
on the airframe. He really does push the limits of both the
plane and himself, this is something that you will not forget
in a hurry.
of the new visitors to Dawlish this year was the beech 18/C45
Expeditor, also known as the “Twin Beech”. Giving
such a graceful display with the twin engines almost purring
away, it looked very appropriate that the beech was in Royal
Navy colours and being seen over the sea where it would have
spent most of its original working life.
next treat came in the shape of a duo, namely the Yak 52 and
Chipmunk, these replaced the scheduled T-6 Texan and Boeing
Stearman – both failing to appear for technical reasons.
The mk22 Chipmunk was flying in the colours of the Portuguese
Air Force, both aircraft gave several flypast as a pair and
then split to display on their own.
the mild mannered propeller engine yak 52 and Chipmunk to the
fast jet engines of theMidair Squadrons’ British Electric
Canberra flew in from its base down in Newquay, with many fast
flypasts and fast turns and climbs it was an exceptional display.
fast jets it was back to the slow Sea king, this time it was
the Royal Navys turn in showing how the Sea King can be used
for Search and Rescue, this time it was to locate and retrieve
a stranded person in the sea, again with support from the inshore
airshow culminated in the 2 avrolancasters, VERA and Thumper
displaying over the sea with the Red Rocks and Exmouth in the
background, what a sight and such a beautiful sound with all
8 engines running. They were flanked by a Spitfire and Hurricane.
There was a huge round of applause for the two lancasters appearing,
it certainly sent a shiver down my spine watching these 2 great
world war 2 planes flying together for the first time in over
50 years. Whilst Dawlish was not the first to get them flying
together it was the first and probably only ever time they will
fly over Dawlish and the surrounding area together.Nothing can
take away though, it was not just lancasters in the war, the
Spitfire and Hurricane had done their fair share of the work
the sea front and all the areas that people were at, a round
of applause started for all the BBMF pilots and crews.
all the display flights at Dawlish they all command one unique
feature, the sea and the red rocks that face the sea together,
there can be no greater place to display aircraft than this
lovely south Devon coastal town.
you have never been to Dawlish before to see an Airshow with
such beautiful backdrops then pay it a visit next year, book
volunteers who organise the event can hold their heads up very
high for such a culmination to this years show, how they will
top that next year will be anyones guess but I am sure they
will have their ideas.
by Ian Birdsey