Lowestoft air show set for take off

The weathermen may have predicted thunderstorms, the United States Air Force may have been called away on other duties, but yesterday the managing director of Lowestoft Air Show was still smiling.

The weathermen may have predicted thunderstorms, the United States Air Force may have been called away on other duties, but yesterday the managing director of Lowestoft Air Show was still smiling.

Despite one or two last minute changes in a packed programme, the 10th anniversary Air Show looks to be as spectacular as ever, with more than 9 hours of flying displays scheduled for this Thursday and Friday.

But Graham Cooke last night pleaded for the public to support this year's show, after last year just £50,000 was collected on the gates from more than 350,000 visitors.

“The message is really if you love the air show, give a quid,” said Mr Cooke. “We don't charge an admission fee, all we ask is you give a pound on the day, and the bottom line is this is not a show funded by the council, we rely on donations, and if we don't get those we can't continue to run it. Any profit we make goes to charity.”


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Last year many visitors claimed they had not seen the collectors on the gates, so this year all collectors are dressing in bright pink jackets.

“We have also added extra gates in Kessingland, so we have 13 gates this year,” said Mr Cooke. “At the end of the day £1 is less than the price of a ice cream, which for a spectacular air display on one best beaches in England is nothing.”

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But yesterday flying display director, Brian Lewis, had his hands full with a number of last minute changes to the schedule.

The United States Air Force, will no longer be displaying their helicopter the MC130/HF53 more affectionately known as the Jolly Green Giant, due to international commitments.

The Royal Navy Hawker Seahawk is currently unserviceable and will also not appear, but the Hawker Sea Fury will be on display.

And on Friday the Red Arrows will be flying at 12pm, half an hour earlier than scheduled, because they have been called to do a fly past at RAF Marham at 11.45am to mark the disbandment of the 39th Air Squadron.

This year a new team, 2 Excel The Blades, will be making their festival debut.

After a hectic first year, which has so far included flying for the Queen's 80th birthday celebrations and the Beckham's star-studded pre-World Cup party, the four-strong team are displaying at both days of the show.

And despite some salubrious shows at the start of the year, pilot Andy Offer, who leads the formation, is still looking forward to Lowestoft.

He said: “I have displayed seven times at Lowestoft with the RAF, five times with the Red Arrows, and it is always brilliant.

“It is unusual to have a free show, so it attracts massive crowds, and it is wonderful displaying over the sea looking along the coastline.

“This year it will be with my own team, and we have a lot more freedom to do what we want, so I am really looking forward to it.”

The Blades fly Extra 300 LPs, a high performance aerobatic plane which Mr Offer describes as “the Ferrari of the skies.”

The planes can perform some impressive moves, including being able to fly as low as 30ft from the ground.

t Special 10th Anniversary Air Show programmes will be on sale at the event both days and cost £3.

t See Friday's EDP for the latest flight schedule and a full round up of today's flying.

TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS

All seafront car parks will be closed to the public on Thursday and Friday, and police will be operating a tow-away service for cars parked in restricted areas.

t Two park and ride services will be provided from the car parks at Dip Farm, off Corton Road, near Pleasurewood Hills, and Pakefield Rifle Range, off London Road. Shuttle buses will run at 10 minute intervals from 8.30am to 11.15pm on both days. Dip Farm buses will drop off and pick up in Suffolk Road and the Pakefield Rifle Range buses will drop off and pick up in Rectory Road. Parking costs £10 per car, including the bus ride for the driver and passengers.

t All usual Lowestoft bus services will be running as normal, for information call First Eastern Counties on 08456 020 121.

t A park and walk scheme will be operating from Lowestoft Football Club on Walmer Road, which will be signposted from the A12, offering 1200 spaces. Parking costs £7 for the day and £3 after 2pm, and the car park will open from 7am to 11pm on Thursday and 7am to 7pm on Friday.

t One Railway has added extra trains from Norwich to Lowestoft will run at 9.50am and 11.57am, and from Lowestoft to Norwich at 6pm. For timetable information call National Rail Enquiries on 08457484950.

THURSDAY PROGRAMME

12.40pm, The Prince of Wales Royal Regiment parachute display team - leader Corporal D Clark

12.52pm, The East Anglian Air Ambulance Bolkow BK117 helicopter - R Turner

1.00pm, The RAF Eurofighter Typhoon - Squadron Leader M Elliot

1.15pm, The RAF's Bae Hawk - Flight Lieutenant M Pert

1.29pm, The Royal Navy Historic Flight's Hawker Sea Fury - Commander P Barnes and Commander P Stone.

1.44pm, The Belgian Air Force's Fouga Magister - Lieut Colonel P Rorive

1.57pm, Plane Sailing's PBY Catalina - P Warren-Wilson

2.10pm, Solo Enterprise's Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX - C Grace

2.22pm, The Army Air Corps Blue Eagles four Lynx and Gazelle helicopters - Captain C Tillotson

2.38pm, The 2 Excel Display Team with four Extra 300s - A Offer

2.50pm, The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane - Sqn Ldr A Pinner

3.07pm, The Royal Navy Westland Lynx - Lieut J Coulton

3.17pm, The Royal Netherlands Air Force Pilatus PC7 - Capt H Vennix

3.28pm, The Utterly Butterly wingwalking team, two Stearmans - M Dentith

3.42pm, The RAF Shorts Tucano - Flt Lieut D Mackenzie

3.52pm, The B17 Preservation Group's Boeing B17 - R Mills

4.13pm, The RAF BAe Harrier - Flt Lieut P Kennlyside

4.25pm, Denny Dobson Aerobatic Extra 300 - D Dobson

4.40pm, The RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team's nine Bae Hawks - Sqn Ldr D Patrounas.

t Please note the Red Arrows will be flying at 12pm on Friday, not at 12.30pm.

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