Weston Air Festival and Armed Forces Weekend
June 17th & 18th 2017
The Strikemaster will be back in 2017
This is a free event along the seafront and in the air above Weston Bay. Once a single-day event, it was extended to 2 days in 2014.
Weston-super-Mare marks Armed Forces Weekend at the same time as the airshow. Armed Forces Display Teams, Cadet Forces, military and civilian bands came together to celebrate the armed forces and the contribution they make.
This year's show was headlined by the Red Arrows, Eurofighter Typhoon and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
Last year's favourites, the Strikemaster and Rich Goodwin's incomparable display in his much-altered Pitts S-2S 'Muscle Biplane' were both back.
It was possible to enjoy, too, some very close flying and sparkling aerobatics from the Trig Team in their two Pitts Specials; from Team Raven in their four Vans RVs and solo aerobatics from Mark Jefferies in an Extra 330. Aerobatics from different size teams - solo, pairs and fours; and in different aircraft, all in brilliant sunshine.
As well as flying and Armed Forces Day events there was arena entertainment, giant inflatables, a fun fair, trade stands, simulators, mini tanks, military exhibitions and displays, many charity and service support organisations.
North Somerset Council organises the Weston Air Festival in partnership with Weston-super-Mare Town Council and the Weston Business Improvement District.
You can see the aircraft from many points along the coast but the main flying line is to the left of the pier as you face the sea. The planes will be at their lowest in front of Marine Parade, between the Premier Inn and where Uphill Road North becomes Beach Road.
For an alternative view try Brean Down, a National Trust peninsular south of the town (use postcode TA8 2RS in the sat nav., then walk), from where you can enjoy a higher viewpoint, watching at the aircraft with Weston-super-Mare as a backdrop.
|Aircraft All both days unless noted
|Due to fly (tap / hover over icon for more detail)|
||Red Arrows |
||Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (Lancaster also originally scheduled but unserviceable)|
|Richard Goodwin 'Muscle Pitts' and Strikemaster Mk82A|
|Westland HAR.10 Whirlwind (Search and Rescue demo) CANCELLED Sunday|
|| Otto 'Chopperbatics'|
|Gazelle Squadron. 1 flying, 1 static|
||Blades (Sunday only)|
||Mustang 'Tall in the Saddle' and MiG-15. Solos on Saturday.|
Flying together on Sunday
|Wingwalker (single) (Sunday only)|
|Slingsby T67 Firefly G-BNSR |
|Cancelled or withdrawn|
|The Sea Vixen was damaged during a wheels-up landing following hydraulic failure at Yeovilton on 27th May|
|Swordfish. Unserviceable for the whole of 2017 season. |
|All appearances are subject to technical, weather and other constraints|
Air Festival 2016
There is invariably a fair amount of military involvement in airshows, so combining the local show with armed forces weekend is a smart move. The events support each other and share the side-shows, such as trade or charity stalls and family entertainment.
The Air Festival at Weston-super-Mare has grown over the years. Since 2014 it has been held over the two-day weekend. The development of the show has brought with it an expansion in the number of displays, including the Red Arrows for this and the previous three years and, for the first time in 2016, the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Despite the regulatory issues since the 2015 Shoreham incident, there were also civilian jet displays from the Gnat Display Team and the NWMAS (Mark Petrie's) Strikemaster.
Unfortunately there were some cancellations, too. The chilly, sometimes breezy conditions on Saturday turned to damper, ultimately wet weather on Sunday, causing many of the scheduled flying displays to be delayed and some ultimately cancelled. In particular it was disappointing not to see the much-anticipated Sea Vixen; another vintage jet, the MiG-15 and the very popular B-17 'Sally B'.
Despite these setbacks, the remaining displays (listed in the table) were hugely appreciated by a substantial crowd. (... continued below the table)
|Eurofighter Typhoon (RAF)||Saturday|
||Gnat Display Team||Saturday|
||Beech 18 G-BKGM||Saturday|
||Hawker Hurricane (BHHH)||Saturday|
||Gerald Cooper (Sbach 300)||Both days|
| ||Stampe SV.4 x3||Saturday|
|BBMF Spitfire TE311 & Hurricane P2865||Saturday|
||Lauren Richardson (Pitts)||Sunday|
|RAF Eurocopter Squirrel ZJ251 (Red Arrows)||Saturday & Sunday|
|Eurocopter AS-350B2 Ecureuil G-VGMG||Saturday|
|Westland Gazelle G-CBGZ||Saturday|
|Robinson R44 G-OHAM||Saturday|
It is also worth visiting the static aircraft park at airshows such as Weston-super-Mare. Perhaps the most interesting was the only remaining airworthy Westland Whirlwind in the bright yellow of Search and Rescue helicopters of the age and a welcome visit from Westland Gazelle G-CBGZ, both on the lawn for the Saturday only.
Seaside shows do depend to a great degree on the 3 S's: sea, sun and superb flying. Weston-super-Mare has not been particularly lucky with the 'sun' part recently. In 2015 the sea mist almost closed in on the Red Arrows and in 2016 they were limited to a rolling display, whilst other displays battled with very challenging conditions not only at the show but between the show and their home base. It is to the credit of the pilots and the organisers that, despite mother nature's efforts, so many displays did go ahead. In 2017 it is Weston-super-Mare's turn for blue skies.
Getting to the Show
Use sat Nav BS23 1BE until you get close, but ignore the sat nav in favour of local directions signs as soon as you see them. There are links to route planners in the Travel Advice column if you prefer to plan ahead or don't have sat nav.
National Express have coach services to Weston-super-Mare from Bristol (Service 040) and Leeds, Sheffield and the South-West (Services 324 and 320). You can book seats online. Click the National Express name to go to their web site.
Buses to Weston-super-Mare from surrounding areas are run by First Group. Near the date they may run special Airshow services. Local services within Weston-super-Mare and nearby villages are offered by Crossville Motor Services.
Accommodation near the show
It is best to book as far as possible in advance. This is not only because nearby hotels and guest houses tend get booked up well before the date of an airshow but also because prices can be better when you book early online.
There are plenty of booking agencies. We find that many of the well known ones are better at finding hotels from international or larger UK chains and may suggest hotels in main towns or cities quite a distance from the show site.
Between them, Expedia and LateRooms list a good selection of smaller, as well as bigger, hotels and will find accommodation in villages and small towns as well as the main centres. Expedia also give, and take, Nectar points.
Click either blue agency name for a list of hotels and guest houses near the show. The venue is already built into both links, so when the list comes up you just have to enter your dates.
Trivago will list competitive prices for a range of hotels, but they might not necessarily find them all, because some chains do not subscribe to their service. You may also get a better rate if you book direct with an hotel, especially if you are a member of a loyalty or rewards scheme.
There are Premier Inn hotels on the seafront, in town and a third within 4 miles.
Weather for the show area
The Met office seven-day forecast includes maximum, minimum and "feels like" temperatures, the likelihood of rain, wind direction, gusts and visibility: the latter can have an impact on the viability of displays.
The BBC's five-day forecast has overall conditions including temperatures, UV range and a description that may help to determine how pleasant the day will be for the visitor.
Click the blue-text link to go to the forecast. The location is already built into the links.