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Dawlish Airshow 2015

 

 

Everyone 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.

The 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.

With 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 aircraft.

Starting 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.

 
 
 

As 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.

Coming 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.

From 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.

Once 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.

 
 

Over 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.

The 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.

What 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.

Despite 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.

   
Review by Ian Birdsey
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