Today, I went to the Sunderland International Airshow. It’s the 18th year it’s been run, and what with one thing and another, it’s the first time I found a tuit at the right time. I remember my dad taking me to shows at RAF St Athan when I was a kid, and I haven’t been to a real live air display since. I’ve seen them on TV, but that just doesn’t capture the feeling of being there. It also doesn’t capture the feeling of being drenched, of course. Although I’m sure the weather was fine for some shows, I have an abiding memory of rain being a major problem at these events. The forecast had been for showers today, but they’ve been saying that for ages. Apart from some rain last night, it’s been remarkably dry lately. And remarkably sunny. And remarkably warm.
The show is held on the sea front at Seaburn – an easy 30 minute ride on the Metro from Gateshead, followed by a ten minute walk from the station to the sea. I had to stand all the way, as a lot of people had the same idea. They do the same show on the two days, but in a different order. Yesterday, when I stayed at home, the conditions were not too good – lots of low cloud, which makes flying displays a bit tricky. Today, however, was as near as damn it perfect. There was some scattered cloud, but it was high enough and scattered enough not to be a problem.
I got to a suitable vantage point about 15 minutes before the flying started. Having closed the show yesterday, The Red Arrows were first on. It’s a lot of years since I’ve seen them do a show, and they’ve developed their routines since then. Very impressive precision formation routines, scary crossover bits, all very impressive.
Other fun stuff included some very nify parachute work from The Falcons. They jumped from their Hercules from about two miles up and over a mile away. They then did some fancy manoeuvres invloving drawing hearts in the air with their smoke trails before landing on a rather small section of beach that had been cleared for them.
There was a display by a Spitfire and Hurricane from the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which was quite wonderful. It’s amazing how they keep these planes flying after so much time – the Spitfire has been doing displays for 49 years, which is a tribute to the skills of the ground crew. And while they obviously can’t throw them around too much, the pilots did put on an impressive show. Good stuff.
And there was more. Much more. A Dutch helicopter did a demonstration of a rescue operation, the Navy’s Black Cats helicopters did a fine show, and there were some impressive aerobatics on show.
The RAF showed off the still amazing after all these years Harrier; the new Eurofighter Typhoon, which is quite large, very loud, and can climb at an incredible rate; and the now quite old as these things go Tornado. All great stuff.
But I’d like to give a special mention to The Blades. Flying four Extra EA-300LPs, this new team, led by a former leader of the Red Arrows, put on a superb show. It was quite something to see prop-driven planes doing the kind of tricks that the Arrows do – including those cross-over thingies. Very impressive – well worth seeing if you get the chance.
The show ended at around 4:30, and I came home.
Now, I can hear the legions of Losing it readers shouting, “so where are the pictures, then?”. Well, there’s a story there. Last night, I very sensibly charged the Canon’s battery. Wouldn’t want to run out of power at a crucial moment, would we? And this morning, I removed the battery from the charger, and put it right next to the camera, intending to replace it in just a moment. And yes. When I was ready to go, I picked up the camera, managed not to notice the battery sitting right next to it, and put the camera in my bag. And off I went. I think it hit me when I was about two stops from Seaburn. I suddenly realised that I had forgotten the battery. By this time it was too late to go back, so there I was with a camera I couldn’t use.
But, while I’m a bit annoyed with myself for forgetting something so obvious, in a way it turned out to be not all that bad. Not having to think about taking pictures meant I could just relax and enjoy my first airshow in over twenty years. And unless something really gets in the way, I’ll be going back next year. I might even be able to work the camera properly by then.
But if you wish to mock, feel free. I’m sure I’ll survive.
 Quite possibly a false implanted one
 Unfortunately, the Lancaster that normally does the shows has been grounded with an engine problem
 Doing the full hovering, spiralling, standing still and otherwise being impossible stuff
 Does remembering when it was a prototype make me old?
 But then, I remember Concorde when it was a prototype
 You can tell what’s coming, can’t you?
 I should have a spare battery soon, so there will always be one in the bag, which should avoid a repeat of today’s fun