Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival begins

The Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival gets underway tomorrow - and an estimated 400,000 are expected to attend.

There is an impressive array of aircraft and some world-class pilots taking to the skies for the 2011 show, with displays running roughly from 12.30pm to 5pm on both days.

As well as crowd-pleasing displays from the Red Arrows and a chance to see the famous Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the United States Air Force (USAF) special operations MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft – rarely seen in daylight – and two USAF F-15E Strike Eagles are set to impress.

A Sea King search and rescue helicopter will take part in an exercise with the Lowestoft lifeboat.

There will be daredevil stunts courtesy of the Aerostars team with six Yak 52s, four Extra 300s of the Blades from 2Excel Aviation, wingwalkers on Boeing Stearman biplanes, the Pitts Pair in their 1940s designed biplanes, as well as the Matadors – better known as champion Red Bull Air Race champions Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones.

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For the first time in RAF history, a female pilot will be flying the Hawk for the solo display.

Flt Lt Juliette Fleming, 32, has been chosen after flying on frontline duties in Afghanistan.

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An experienced frontline fast-jet pilot who joins the RAF solo and team display teams after flying the Tornado GR4 in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Juliette had previously been stationed with the Tornado squadrons at RAF Marham.

Capable of speeds up to 630mph, the Hawk is the most successful trainer aircraft in the world and one of the few display aircraft to have a different painted body each year.

After suffering a financial loss of �39,000 last year and failing to secure a major sponsor for 2011, the volunteer organisers of the air show are hoping for record-breaking turn out to help swell the coffers.

The show is free. but members of the public are being asked to put donations of at least �3 into the collection buckets.

'I hope people support us because it's just such amazing value for money,' said Paul Bayfield, a director of not-for-profit Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival.

'Where else could you see aeroplanes of the quality of the Red Arrows for �3?

'It's really important we get the message out there that we're doing it for all the right reasons; for the economy and local businesses, for tourism and the charities as well.'

It is estimated that the air show is worth more than �11.9m to East Anglian tourism.

In 15 years it has grown into

one of the biggest events in the region.

Wristbands to help keep children safe on the coastline will be handed out at this year's air show.

Seasense, being spearheaded by BBC Radio Suffolk and supported by Suffolk County Council, is designed to be a simple way of reuniting children with their parents if they get lost.

Parents will write their telephone numbers on the bands in case they become separated from their children.

The campaign is set to run throughout the school holidays and urge people to take care along Suffolk's 47 miles of coastline and 176 miles of tidal shoreline made up of major estuaries.

The wristbands will be given out for free out at the air show today and tomorrow..

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