EVENING UPDATE: Organisers hail ‘bulldog spirit’ as 340,000 visitors attend Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival
DELIGHTED organisers of the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival have hailed the 'bulldog spirit' of visitors after 340,000 people turned out for the annual two-day spectacular.
For the first time this year, the 16th Lowestoft airshow was held over a Saturday and Sunday. And with the event taking place three months earlier in the year due to the London Olympics, organisers expressed their delight with the tens of thousands of people who packed the town's Blue Flag beaches and lined the promenade.
Sunshine, a heavy rainstorm, high winds and a mixture of blue and grey skies may have typified the 'Great British weather' over the past two days, but the true 'great British bulldog spirit' shone through as tens of thousands of visitors descended on town.
Air Festival managing director Paul Bayfield said: 'We were delighted with 200,000 people turning out on Saturday for this our first show on a weekend, as we did not know what to expect.
'With 140,000 people turning out today (Sunday), to have a combined 340,000 people attend for the two days, which given the weather is pretty excellent. 'Considering the absolute downpour before the event today (Sunday) I think we have done incredibly well and certainly the great British spirit and the Great British weather have been seen over the past two days. 'I am so pleased with the support we have had given the weather,' Mr Bayfield added.
More than 40 aircraft took to the skies over the weekend show, with just three aircraft - the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Hurricane and Spitfire and the Falcons Free Fall parachute display team - missing out on their scheduled performances on Saturday due to the weather.
With the heavy downpour putting an early dampener on proceedings this morning, the efforts of flying display director Tim Miller - in moving the program around - were commended by organisers.
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The airshow costs more than �300,000 to stage, and with the money paid by the public vital to the festival's future, Mr Bayfield said that while the final amounts received would not be known until later in the week, he was pleased with the turn-out on both days.
He said: 'The key thing now is to get everything together, to pay all our invoices and then see if we have enough to go again next year.
'We only had nine months time to get the show together and we had some really major changes in the organisation as well with it being a weekend event. 'But we did it, we all came together and pulled it off and the end result is another two successful days of the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival,' he said.
The supersonic Eurofighter Typhoon made a welcome return to Lowestoft to commence this year's show on Saturday, as the �125m state-of-the-art jet roared back into town with a bang. The world famous Red Arrows were due to close Saturday's show, but the Dakota made a surprise entrance late in the day.
Among today's highlights were two Tornado GR.4 aircraft flying a 'role demonstration' and the iconic Red Arrows, who closed this year's festival in style.
Two people were arrested for minor offences on the first day of the airshow. More than 70 patients were treated for a range of medical conditions and various injuries, such as burns and wounds, by the St John Ambulance volunteers on Saturday, while five children who got lost on the opening day were quickly reunited with their families.
? St John Ambulance volunteers were also involved as a man plunged from the balcony of a flat in Lancing Court at teatime on Saturday night, at the end of the first day of the airshow. He was taken to James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston with injuries that were not deemed to be life threatening.