remembers the scenes from 2014 when the sea wall was washed
away from Dawlish in the storms. The Sea Wall had only reopened
less than 2 weeks before the air show date and this is one of
the places that spectators view the show from. From the high
cliffs at Lea Mount right around the Sea Wall at Red rock was
packed with spectators for this years show.
weather reports were not looking too promising but as always
the Dawlish weather has a mind of its own and once the early
morning mist and fog had burnt off we were looking at a good
day for an airshow.
the beautiful Lyme bay as the backdrop for this airshow you
are always presented with some spectacular views of the aircraft
displaying and in the right spot you are often higher than the
the 2015 show this year was the Royal Air Force Hawk display
team, with them coming in low over red rock with the crowds
on their right and Lea Mount directly in front of them, with
a slight turn of the stick they were into their full display
against the backdrop of the bay and the sea.
is customary at Dawlish, being at the coast, we were shown the
Royal Navy search and rescue demonstration in conjunction with
the RNLI local teams. This is the last time that we will see
the Royal Navy do this demo as the Sea Kings are decommissioned
at the end of the year and the Search & Rescue is passed
to the private sector. The Sea King showed everyone why it was
one of the best SAR helicopters going despite its 40 + years
in service. With a multitude of practice runs both depositing
and then collecting a crew member from the RNLI Lifeboat.
in low and fast was the RAF Typhoon, surprising the crowds until
it was almost on the display line showing everyone was it was
capable of and doing some beautiful slow passes until the afterburner
was kicked back in and the orange glow of the exhausts could
be seen against the gray aircraft colour. The crowds were shown
how this aircraft can perform to its best by coming in low and
turning skyward almost on no space at all. This was a brilliant
demo by the Typhoon display team.
the latest fighter we were taken back to the 70’s with
the Strikemaster, almost appearing to be silent and stationary
compared to the previous show. The old girl was showing some
of the moves that she done with grace and beauty.
the Strikemaster had finished we were treated to a sight which
may not happen again, the Strikemaster performed a couple of
low speed passes with the Pitts Special Bi Plane piloted by
Rich Goodwin. To see these two aircraft together was very unusual
in what looked like the Strikemaster being on its lowest airspeed
possible and the Pitts Special being at full airspeed with white
smoke being trailed out of the Pitts special along the whole
length of the crowdline.
the bay could be seen two small dots of light, as they got closer
they were identifiable as the Royal Navy Black Cats Demo Team,
showing what the Lynx replacement can do now. With many near
loop overs and the reversing of a helicopter the crowds were
in awe of them.
main reason that Dawlish had so many spectators was soon to
arrive in the very large delta wing shape of XH558, the Avro
Vulcan, showing how majestic and large it is. With the unforgettable
Vulcan wind howl as she approached the display area followed
very quickly by Rolls Royce engines making the roar as she passes
you. You could feel the air move as it went past. With the crew
putting her through her paces in what is now her last season
and what is likely to have been her last full display in the
South West of England. Once the display had finished there was
a huge round of applause from those around me. Many people had
only come to see her fly one last time over the bay where 6
years ago she had flown with the Red Arrows in a unique formation.
turned out the be the last display of the day was completed
by the Sea Fire, with the skies getting very dark and thunder
being heard it was the last flight of the afternoon, the Read
Arrows were scheduled to display and were ready at Exeter Airport
to commence their display routine but the weather was against
them this year.
the awful weather at the end of the show the organisers had
pulled another brilliant free airshow that makes this show so
unique, Dawlish does not have a massive promenade or sea front
like so many other coastal air shows, but it does have a unique
feel about it with the red rocks and the bay around it. It is
the very best free coast based air show in the UK. Congratulations
to the organisers for such a varied show of aircraft despite
the weather being against you all at the end of the day.
by Ian Birdsey