September 1 - 4
2022 will be the 14th year of the Bournemouth Air Festival. Over that time it has become the best-attended seaside airshow in the UK.
The Festival is well supported locally and has a reputation for innovation. In 2010 it was the first show to introduce dusk flying with LEDs and Fireworks. It has good support, too, from RAF teams and usually a naval contribution.
In 2021 Bournemouth was the only location in the world where the Red Arrows displayed on four consecutive days.
Displays in 2022 will be listed in the table when known. In the meantime, click the '2021 Review' tab for our review of the 2021 Bournemouth Air Festival.
Information about any naval or private activity on the sea will be here when known.
Bournemouth's first airshow, called the Bournemouth Air Festival, was held in August 2008. It has grown in size and popularity since then, rivalling traditional seaside airshows such as Eastbourne.
Like Eastbourne's Airbourne, it is held from Thursday to Sunday along the seafront and offers sea-based events and static displays as well as military, historic and aerobatic air displays. There used to be (but not so much recently) some kind of beach assault or air-sea rescue re-enactment, a lot of participation by all three armed services and some dusk or early evening flying.
Bournemouth's sea front is seven miles long. The air displays can be seen from most points, including the pier and the balconies of sea front hotels but the best viewing is from the centre of the flying line, between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers, either at sea level or from above on a road called East Overcliff Drive.
In case there are mistakes or changes, please check the show's site for the latest list.
September 2 - 5
The local authority at Bournemouth, and everyone else involved with the organisation of the Bournemouth Air Festival, must be applauded for their courage and determination in enabling the airshow to go ahead, when all around the country so many shows, especially free seaside airshows, were being called off.
Yes, Bournemouth had the advantage that their show is later in the season, so there was time for Covid-19 restrictions to become more relaxed. Even so, the decision to go ahead with a show has to be taken months in advance to allow time for the regulatory and practical preparations to be made and at the time of the commitment to the Festival there was no certainty that large gatherings would be possible.
The organisers deserved to be rewarded with sunshine and blue skies. There was sunshine but it was well hidden much of the time behind a sea mist so dense that spectators were fortunate the pilots were able, and willing, to display. Several of the displays that would normally be visible throughout the routine were out of sight in the mist for long periods. Surrounding landmarks, The Needles off the Isle of Wight to the east and the Purbeck Hills to the west were invisible much of the time and poorly defined behind the mist the rest of the time.
Nevertheless, the show did go on and, despite the weather, and to the credit of all involved, was virtually unaffected by the conditions.
The Red Arrows were again the big crowd-puller. Their last display had been three years earlier, in 2018. In 2019 they could not come because they were on a tour of the USA and Canada and in 2020 there was no show because of Covid-19. In 2021 they were back in style with a display on every one of the four days of the show. It was the only location in the world where they displayed on four consecutive days in 2021.
The weather did not make it easy for them, with a sea mist on every day, becoming very dense towards the end of the four-day festival. Several other teams changed their routines because of the poor visibility but the Red Arrows, with a choice of three possible displays, were able to select the appropriate version for the conditions and satisfy the thirst of the crowd for aerobatics par excellence, sometimes in visibility that must have been only just within the safety margins.
The RAF team had introduced new manoeuvres for the 2021 season, seen at Bournemouth for the first time, the most popular of which, judging by crowd reaction, was a pass by five aircraft trailing blue smoke as a tribute to the NHS.
There were be no tours of Royal Navy or Fleet Auxiliary boats in 2021, but there was a P2000 patrol and training vessel in the bay. There was also a Sunseeker Parade just off the seafront on Saturday, showcasing Sunseeker boats and yachts over the years.
The official radio partners for the Festival were Hot Radio on 102.8FM, digital radio and online, which also carried the commentary.
The Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers were due to display on all four days. The first two days went well but on the third day, Saturday, a short way into their display, there was a technical problem with one of the aircraft. Both Stearmans were seen flying slightly away from the display line, then back towards the beach and off to the west. A short distance along the coast Dave Barrell made a controlled ditching in Poole Harbour where he and his passenger, wingwalker Kirsten Pobjoy, were recovered from the water. They both sustained minor injuries but were released from the local hospital soon afterwards. The aircraft has since been recovered.
Following the incident involving the Wingwalkers, the rest of the daytime displays were 'suspended'. In practice displays by the Rolls Royce Mustang, the Typhoon, The Blades and the Ultimate Fighters were cancelled. The third and final 'Night Air' was also cancelled, so the only dusk display by the Rolls Royce Mustang, as well as twilight displays by the Fireflies, Tigers Parachute display Team and Typhoon were written off.
|Red Arrows (at 3 p.m. on all four days)|
|Eurofighter Typhoon (RAF) (due all four days but cancelled on Saturday because the show had to end early)|
|Chinook (RAF) (Fri, Sat, Sun)|
|Richard Goodwin, G-JPIT Pitts S2S (Fri, Sat, Sun)|
|Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers (due all four days but an incident curtailed the display on Saturday and no display on Sunday)|
|RN Wildcat (all four days)|
|The Blades (due all four days but no display Saturday when the show had to finish early)|
|BBMF Dakota (replacing the Lancaster), Spitfire and Hurricane (all four days)|
|Spitfire X1X PS853 G-RRGN: Rolls Royce Heritage Trust (Thurs & Fri)|
|P-51D Mustang (Rolls Royce Heritage Trust) (Sat [unable to display because of shortened show] & Sun)|
|Tigers Parachute Display Team (Sat & Sun)|
|Republic P47 Thunderbolt 'Nellie' (Ultimate Fighters) (* Ultimate Fighters together in formation) (due all four days. Unable to display Saturday because show had to end early).|
|'Grace' Spitfire Mk1XT G-LFIX 'ML407' (Air Leasing) (* Ultimate Fighters together in formation) (due all four days. Unable to display Saturday because show had to end early).|
|North American P-51D Mustang 'Contrary Mary' (formerly 'Miss Velma') G-TFSI (Anglia Aircraft Restorations / Ultimate Fighters) (* Ultimate Fighters together in formation) (due all four days. Unable to display Saturday because show had to end early).|
|Hispano HA-1112-M4L Buchón "White 9" G-AWHH (Anglia Aircraft Restorations / Ultimate Fighters) (* Ultimate Fighters together in formation) (due all four days. Unable to display Saturday because show had to end early).|
|The Blades and The Ultimate Fighters also flew together on Friday. They were due to fly together on Saturday but were prevented when the show had to end early.|
|Fireflies (all four days)|
|Slingsby T67 Firefly (Thurs)|
|Agusta A109 (Belgian Air Force) Cancelled|
|Dusk Displays. There were no displays on Saturday because of an aircraft incident earlier in the day.|
|Fireflies (Thurs, Fri)|
|Eurofighter Typhoon (RAF) (Thurs, Fri)|
|Vickers Supermarine Spitfire X1X PS853 G-RRGN: Rolls Royce Heritage Trust (Thurs, Fri)|
|Tigers Parachute Display Team (Thurs, Fri)|
|Agusta A109 (Belgian Air Force) Cancelled|
Another major formation welcomed by airshow enthusiasts and casual visitors alike was the combination of the Blades with the Ultimate Fighters, resulting in an eight-aircraft formation of widely varying types. Unfortunately, the display was lost on Saturday because of the Wingwalker incident but the combination was an unlisted bonus on Friday.
Alongside the deserved praise for the festival, it has to be admitted that there were a couple of disappointments. Two headline displays, widely anticipated and promoted in the literature, were the Belgian Agusta A109 and the BBMF Lancaster. The Lancaster was even still being promoted on the airshow radio up to the time of the intended display, even though it was very widely known that it was still at Duxford and unlikely to leave there for some days. Fortunately, the Dakota was able to substitute and flew alongside the BBMF Spitfire and Hurricane on three of the four days. On Friday the Dakota had a technical problem initially and was unable to accompany the BBMF fighters for their scheduled display but was fixed and flew a solo later in the day.
The exclusion of the Belgian helicopter was only announced very late in the day and the reason not made entirely clear. The team's social media initially blamed an administrative disagreement but expense and Covid-19 formalities were also mentioned in other commentaries. The loss of the A109 was especially disappointing as it was to have featured in the dusk display as well as during the daytime.
Festival fans in Bournemouth are known for craving the Eurofighter Typhoon: one of the most controversial omissions in 2017 and 2018. At the last Festival in 2019 it made a hugely welcome return, displaying in the daytime and Night Air slots. That popular combination was repeated in 2021, with an appearance scheduled on all four days and all three Night Airs, although displays were reduced to three and two respectively because of Saturday's suspension of flying. A technical problem meant that Sainty (Flight Lieutenant James Sainty) was not able to fly the Union Flag-decorated 'BlackJack' every time, but was able to show off the special 2021-2022 livery in the Thursday and Sunday daytime displays.
It is appropriate to recognise the popularity of the 'big boys' but fair, too, to acknowledge the impact of the lighter aircraft and their pilots, who braved the same conditions to astonish and fascinate the crowds. Richard Goodwin always comes into this category when he is on the flying schedule and he certainly didn't disappoint in 2021. Flying his new JPIT, the blue wonder scorched the skies just like G-EWIZ used to.
The Slingsby Firefly is a totally different beast, caressed gracefully, but no less skillfully, through the blue skies that Thursday kindly provided for Rod Dean. It's a pity the weekend crowds didn't get to see the diminutive yellow aircraft taken through its paces. Next year, maybe.
From solos to pairs, and none better than the Fireflies. Acting as one, Jon Gowdy and Andy Durston stuck together as though they were flying a double-decker. Bournemouth saw the last ever display by the pairing of Jon and Andy: in the latter days of the Air Festival their seats were taken by Nigel Reed and Jon Dodd.
Night Air is always a highlight of the Bournemouth Air Festival and this year was expected to be particularly special because the Belgian A109 and Typhoon were both on the schedule. However, the A109 displays were lost when the Belgian team had to withdraw from the Festival and all displays on Saturday were cancelled following the Wingwalker incident earlier in the day. The lack of the Saturday displays also meant that the Rolls Royce Mustang, which would have displayed on the Saturday, was not seen at Night Air.
A technical issue also meant that the special liveried 'BlackJack' did not display at any of the evening slots, or, indeed some of the daytime ones.
The remaining two days of Night Air were as spectacular as ever with pyrotechnic displays by the Fireflies and displays as the sun was going down from the Typhoon, Rolls Royce Spitfire and the Tigers Parachute Display Team.
The dates for the 2022 Air Festival were announced on the last day of this year's show. We sincerely hope that the issues affecting shows in 2021 have been fully resolved well before then and that the organisers of excellent airshows such as the Bournemouth Air Festival have full cooperation from teams in the UK and abroad as well as the dry, calm, clear weather that the organisers so richly deserve.
If you think this review is not balanced, or that a point has been missed, or even if you agree with it, do get in touch to let us know.
August 29 - September 1
Most airshows are susceptible to line-up changes at the last minute. Usually these feature cancellations for a variety of reasons. The changes at Bournemouth in 2019 were altogether different. Yes, there were a few losses from the programme but the most memorable changes were late additions, most notably the very late addition to the schedule of a flypast on Friday afternoon by a US Navy P-8A Poseidon Surveillance Aircraft.
The Red Arrows are loyal supporters of the show but in 2019 they were not able to display because of their tour of the USA and Canada in August and September. The RAF Chinook Display Team did, however, display at the show on three of the four days, the only seaside show to get a trio of appearances. RIAT was the only other show to be awarded as many Chinook displays in 2019.
The Typhoon only flew in one of the evening displays, Friday, and was probably the star of Night Air, both because of the spectacular flying and because it is unusual to see any jet in the after-dusk displays at the Bournemouth Air Festival. Also unusual was a Spitfire in the dusk displays. More usual and equally popular were the 'old guard' of the Fireflies, Brendan O'Brien's J-3 Cub and 'Otto' on all three of the night-flying days and the Red Devils Parachute Display Team on Saturday.
The RAF's Typhoon display team also returned to Bournemouth, one of the most called-for displays, not seen at the festival since 2016. Not only did Jim Peterson bring on the noise at daytime displays on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to satisfy the much-publicised longing, he also flew at dusk; the once-silver jet turning gold in the setting sun.
|P-8A Poseidon (US Navy) (Flypast only - Friday afternoon)|
|Modern Jets, Fighters / Attack|
|Eurofighter Typhoon (RAF) (Fri 16.25 & 19.35, Sat 17.29, Sun 16.05)|
|Saab J35 Draken (Swedish Air Force Historic Flight) (Fri 17.16, Sat 17.18, Sun 13.33)|
|Canadair T-33 Silver Star (Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron) (Sat & Sun) Flying with MiG-15|
|Mig-15 (Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron) (Sat & Sun) Flying with T-33|
|Strikemaster pair, G-SOAF and G-RSAF (all 4 days)|
|Chinook (RAF) (Fri, Sat & Sun)|
|Black Cats (solo) Wildcat HMA2 (RN) (all 4 days)|
|BBMF Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane (all 4 days)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX (Thurs daytime. See also dusk displays)|
|Hawker Sea Fury T.20 (Norwegian Spitfire Foundation) (Sat & Sun)|
|Republic P47 Thunderbolt 'Nellie' (Ultimate Fighters)( Thurs, Fri, Sat)*|
|'Grace' Spitfire Mk1XT G-LFIX 'ML407' (Replacing the Thunderbird on Sunday)|
|North American P-51D Mustang 'Contrary Mary' (formerly 'Miss Velma') G-TFSI (Anglia Aircraft Restorations / Ultimate Fighters)(all 4 days) *|
|Hispano HA-1112-M4L Buchón "White 9" G-AWHH (Anglia Aircraft Restorations / Ultimate Fighters)(all 4 days) *|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vc G-IBSY 'EE602' (Anglia Restorations / Ultimate Fighters)(all 4 days) *|
|* These 4 from Ultimate Fighters displayed together in formation and in pairs. (Thurs 16.37, Fri 15.55, Sat 13.58, Sun 15.43)|
|RAF Tucano (Thurs, Fri & Sat)|
|Richard Goodwin (all 4 days)|
|The Blades (all 4 days)|
|Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers (due Fri, Sat, cancelled)|
|Fireflies (all 4 days)|
|Tigers Parachute Display Team (Thurs, Fri, Sat)|
|Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX (Thurs, Fri, Sat)|
|Brendan O'Brien & Otto the helicopter (Thurs, Fri, Sat)|
|Brendan O'Brien in J-3 Cub with fireworks at dusk (Thurs, Fri, Sat)|
|Red Devils Parachute Display Team (Sat)|
|Fireflies (Thurs, Fri, Sat)|
More and larger photos taken at this airshow
Possibly the most welcome display of the entire weekend came from Sweden on every one of the four days. The Swedish Air Force Historic Flight's Saab J35 Draken was due to display on the last three days of the show but also made a surprise visit to the Bournemouth seaside on Thursday when it came for a practice run. The striking vintage jet is rarely seen at post-Shoreham British airshows. Although it did display at Sunderland, and is expected to display at Jersey in September, it was an unexpected addition to the Bournemouth flying schedule when the announcement was made and an extremely welcome addition to the line-up at a show that many regulars had criticised for its lack of jet displays. The Draken joined other Scandinavian vintage jets in the programme; the MiG-15 and the Canadair T-33 Silver Star, both from the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron. The MiG has been seen at seaside shows increasingly frequently but this was the first time at Bournemouth for the Canadair T-33 Silver Star, which flew alongside and in mock combat with the MiG before each of the Norwegian aircraft gave their solo displays.
A display new to the UK airshow circuit this year, and that has generated a great deal of interest and acclamation, is the 'Ultimate Fighters' quartet from Ultimate Warbird Flights, who displayed on all four days of the Festival. These warbirds from the Richard Grace stable arrived in tight formation and, despite the varied characteristics of the aircraft, held their stations until their break into pairs. For the first three days the standard Thunderbolt, Spitfire, Mustang, Buchón foursome provided formation and pairs displays. However, on Sunday the Thunderbolt was committed elsewhere so the formation quartet was followed by alternative pairs displays in which the Mustang and Buchón demonstrated a mock dogfight and the Grace Spitfire ML407, replacing the Thunderbolt, performed an aerobatic routine with the Mk Vc Spitfire EE602.
More aerobatics, in an even more dynamic style, came from Richard Goodwin who added some varied sky drawing to his totally mad spinning, tumbling routine. His pictures in the sky included an upside-down face on Sunday, an upright face on Friday and a heart drawn on behalf of Harry Redknapp for his wife Sandra, which may be seen in a TV documentary at a future date.
It is estimated that over 800,000 people visited the airshow over four days, making the Bournemouth Air Festival not only the biggest airshow in terms of visitor numbers, but also one of the biggest spectator events in the UK. The team know how to maintain that interest. They have a reputation for switching and swapping displays to suit varying weather conditions, when elsewhere there might be more cancellations. In 2018 the Festival included the Breitling Jet Team, a year before 'the crowd' followed in 2019. They were the first with dusk flying and this year they spiced it up with the Typhoon. We look forward to seeing what they have in store for 2020.
This year there was good representation from the Royal Navy, comprising a Bay Class Royal Fleet Auxiliary Landing ship, 'RFA Lyme Bay', together with a Royal Navy Type 23 'Duke' class Frigate, 'HMS Argyll'. There were also two P2000 Archer Class vessels, used for patrols and training.
Boat trips to sail around (but not go on board) the Landing Ship and the Frigate were available for £10pp.
Although widely supported throughout the town, there was some opposition to the airshow from groups complaining about the environmental impact. The organisers responded that they were taking measures that would address any environmental issues. They said that they had arranged the planting of 275 trees in the area and a donation of £3,500 to a project to protect the Amazonian rainforest to offset the 275 tonnes of carbon emissions generated by the aircraft in the flying displays.
|Music on the Bournemouth Music Stage|
|7 - 8pm||Gemma Leanne||Lee Rasdall-Dove||The Roughcuts|
|8.30 - 10 p.m.||The Rozzers - Sting & The Police Tribute||Elton John Tribute||The Los Palmas 6 - Madness Tribute|
Bournemouth Regained the Seaside Show Crown in 2018
Let's be honest, the 10th anniversary Air Festival in 2017 wasn't Bournemouth’s best Airshow. The aircraft line-up was lacklustre and the weather was atrocious.
However, in 2018 the show made amends. The flying programme was amongst the best of all seaside shows and included several displays not seen elsewhere in the country: and the weather was the best for almost a decade. 2018 was the year when the Bournemouth Air Festival regained the crown as the best seaside show in the UK.
Most of the highlights came from displays not previously seen at Bournemouth. The highest profile was the display by the six L-39 Albatros jets of the Breitling Jet Team, the world’s largest professional civilian team flying jets. The team displayed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the daytime and also on Saturday at dusk. These were the only displays by the team in the UK in 2018.
Another treat at Bournemouth, not seen elsewhere, was the first public display by two pilots from Gravity Industries wearing personal jet suits. One pilot, founder and chief test pilot Richard Browning, has displayed at Goodwood Festival of Speed and Farnborough International Airshow, but always on his own. At Bournemouth he was joined by Dr Angelo Grubisic, who is a university professor and wingsuit proximity BASE jumper amongst other things.
A third highlight, as he is everywhere he flies, was Richard Goodwin in his very modified Pitts Special, which he calls the 'Muscle Biplane' and which bears the very appropriate registration G-EWIZ. Richard has become very well know and extremely well respected everywhere he flies but, surprisingly, this was his first time at Bournemouth. Local people soon found out what they had been missing as Richard entered stage right in a knife-edge all along the crowd line on the cloudy days but in a corkscrew from great height at the weekend when the weather allowed, turning as many as 13 spirals before levelling out. Understandably, the crowd called out "he's bonkers" as he made the Pitts appear totally out of control in twists and tumbles, but always returning to the straight and level - not necessarily the right way up. I really don't think he minds being called bonkers. He might even agree.
Many seaside shows make a claim to be the biggest. Of course, that depends how 'big' is measured, but in terms of crowd size the show at Bournemouth probably was. It is estimated that just over a million visitors attended in 2018; 460,000 on Saturday alone and although it cost around £800,000 to stage, the benefit to the local economy could be over £30 million.
|Red Arrows (Thurs 5.30pm, Fri 3pm; Sat at noon)|
|Breitling Jet Team (day displays Fri; Sat; Sun. Dusk display Sat.)|
|Dakota, Spitfire and Hurricane (BBMF) (all 4 days [Hurricane cancelled Thurs])|
|Chinook (RAF) (Fri, Sat, Sun)|
|B-17G 'Sally B' (all four days)|
|Team Raven (all 4 days)|
|The Blades (Sat & Sun)|
|Tigers Parachute Display Team (all four days)|
|Great War Display Team. Six WW1 fighters on Saturday and 7 on Sun.|
|Brendan O'Brien & Otto the helicopter (dusk displays Thurs, Fri, Sat)|
|Richard Goodwin (all four days)|
|Strikemaster pair, G-SOAF and G-RSAF (all four days). Also a flypast with the Vampires and MiG on Sunday.|
|Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers (all four days)|
|Fireflies (joint dusk display with Twisters)|
|Twisters (as a pair in the daytime and at dusk a joint display with the Fireflies)|
|Vampires FB.52 and T.55 as a pairs display. Also flying with the MiG on Sat & a flypast with Strikemasters and MiG on Sunday|
|MiG-15. Solo and flying with the Vampires on Saturday. Solo and a flypast with the Vampires and the Strikemasters on Sunday.|
|2 pilots from 'Take on Gravity' in personal jetsuits (Fri day and dusk. Sat lunchtime only. Dusk display cancelled.)|
A last minute addition to the flying on Thursday was a Tornado GR4, which made a single pass at 1,000 feet to open the flying, immediately before the display by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. That BBMF display was reduced to a Spitfire followed by the Dakota when the Hurricane developed a technical problem. The rest of the day went as planned, including a spectacular dusk display by the Fireflies, Twisters and Otto.
The Hurricane was fixed and flew on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as did everything else on the schedule, including a full 'Night Air' programme of The Tigers Parachute Display Team, the Fireflies with the Twisters and Otto on Friday and the same again but with the Breitling Jet Team instead of the Tigers on Saturday.
Friday was also the first public display by the Gravity Jetsuit pair. On Friday at lunchtime and before 'Night Air' both took off from Bournemouth pier and flew over the water; Richard continuing to the parachute landing beach halfway to Boscombe pier. On Friday Angelo dropped into the water just short of the Gravity base about half-way to the parachute landing beach. When they flew on Saturday at lunchtime it was Richard's turn to end up in the water just short of his landing spot. Damage to the equipment as a result of the two dunkings meant that Saturday's planned dusk display had to be cancelled.
Apart from the final run of the Jetsuit pair and Thursday's BBMF Hurricane display, everything else in the programme flew and most displays were more or less at the published times: very unusual indeed for an airshow these days.
During the Bournemouth Air Festival, for £10 per adult or £5 per child, visitors aged 10 years old or over could take a 45-minute boat trip to see HMS Diamond, a Type 45 Destroyer, although there was no boarding.
31st August - 3rd September 2017
This was the tenth anniversary of one of the UK's premier seaside airshows with input from the RAF, Army and Royal Navy, as well as civilian displays.
A special show might have been expected for such an occasion and there was certainly plenty on the ground for the whole family around the pier and along the entire stretch between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers, both at sea level and in East Overcliff Drive above.
RFA Argus was the landing platform for the Merlin helicopter that supported an assault demonstration, when troops and heavy vehicles showed how they would deal with a threat on the beach. There was a practice on Friday and a full demonstration on Saturday and Sunday: the Saturday assault accompanied by rather fast and distant passes by a pair of Hawks from RAF Culdrose. On Sunday the Merlin supporting the beach assault demonstration, but without the Hawks, was the only flying. All other displays were cancelled because of poor visibility, high crosswinds and the forecast of rain. Cancellations are always a pity, but Sunday's cancellation was especially unfortunate because it promised to have one of the highlights of the weekend: a six-ship vintage jet display to complement the 'Vintage Sunday' theme. Most of the jets, a Strikemaster, a Jet Provost, the MiG-15 and the Vampire pair had taken part in the Festival earlier in the week, but Sunday would have added a second Jet Provost and would have been the only opportunity to see all six. There is no fault on the part of the pilots or the Bournemouth team, who really had no choice given the conditions, but it was a pity that the weather got the better of the best efforts of the Festival Organisers.
Although the Festival was well-served by the five vintage jets that did fly, many people bemoaned the lack of a modern jet, especially in the wake appearances by the Belgian F-16 at Eastbourne and Biggin Hill. The RAF did lend its usual support but it was without the Typhoon, which was committed to displays in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the Lancaster, whose displays had been paused, along with other Merlin-engined BBMF aircraft, because of a technical issue. On the positive side, there were two appearances by the RAF Chinook: a flypast on Thursday and a full display on Friday. The Chinook was only booked for 11 public UK airshows in the whole of 2017, so the Friday display was a relative rarity this year.
There was also a great dusk programme, with excellent variety: a flowing, aesthetic display from the Twisters; dynamic multi-coloured fireworks from Brendan O’Brien in Otto and both solo and combination descents from the Red Devil Parachute Display Team. For such an anniversary, however, many might feel that overall the flying displays were not as auspicious as the occasion warranted.
The Bournemouth festival is usually well supported by the naval fraternity, with several Royal Navy vessels and generally one or two from France, too. However this year, because of 'operational and resource pressures' there was just one ship; one of the regulars, Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Argus. It is normally possible to visit a naval vessel but this year that option was not available: there were no visits by members of the public on board although it was possible to take a 45-minute trip in a private boat that sailed around the outside.
|Red Arrows (Thurs 6 p.m. Fri 3.30 p.m. Sat noon. No display Sunday)|
|Chinook (Thursday (flypast) and Friday)|
|Hawker Hurricane Mk X (Sat, Sun*)|
|Spitfire TR lX (Thurs, Fri)|
|Spitfire Mk lXb flying with|
Hispano Buchón 'Black 8' (Sun*)
|Blades (Three-ship, without Ben Murphy) (All four days*)|
|Sally B (All 4 days*)|
|Strikemaster Solo (Fri)|
|Strikemaster Pair (Sat, Sun*). [In practice, Strikemaster solo with Jet Provost XW325 on Saturday]|
|Jet Provost T.5 (Sun*, flying with Strikemaster pair)|
|Vampire pair (Sat, Sun*)|
|Mig-15 (Thurs, Fri, Sun*)|
|Wingwalker solo (Thurs, Sat, Sun**)|
|Twisters, daytime displays (Thurs, Fri)|
|Great War Display Team. Seven WW1 types on Saturday (Sat & Sun*)|
|P-51D Mustang 'Miss Helen' (Thurs, Fri)|
|Bristol Blenheim (All four days*)|
|Gerald Cooper Xtreme Air XA41 (All four days*)|
|Yakovlevs (Sat [2 Yaks] & Sun* [4 Yaks])|
|Tigers Parachute Display Team (All four days*)|
|Merlin HM2 (Supporting beach landings, Sat, Sun & practice Fri)|
|(x2)||Hawk T1 (x2) (Supporting beach landings, Sat, Sun & practice Fri)|
|* All Sunday flying, except the Merlin in support of the beach landings, was cancelled|
|Dusk displays: Thurs, Fri & Sat|
|Red Devils Parachute Display Team|
|Otto the helicopter - Brendan O'Brien|
|Once listed but subsequently cancelled|
|Swordfish W5865 (unserviceable)|
|Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane (Thurs, Fri) *|
|Dakota, Spitfire, Hurricane (Sat, Sun) *|
|* Merlin engines.|
There was free live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Thursday: Rooster, a party band; on Friday: The Nick Ross Orchestra with Sam Merrick and on Saturday the beach was crowded for a superb Stevie Wonder tribute band called The Wonderband.
There were also concerts (not free) at the Immense Air Aerobar on all four days featuring, through the week, Ed Sheeran Experience Tribute Act, Rio Carnival, Koh Pha Ngan Full Moon Party and Vintage Day and postcard pin ups. Not quite a match for last year's Kaiser Chiefs but tickets were only £5 in advance.
The Red Arrows were as popular as always. Red 9 was suffering the effects of food poisoning on Friday, so there was a chance to see an eight-ship display, but the full complement of nine flew on Thursday and Saturday. It was noticeable how the number of spectators walking around reduced, and the numbers along the barriers looking skywards increased, as Red 10 Mike Ling announced their arrival and took the hundreds of thousands of spectators through the team's manoeuvres. However, other Festival highlights are harder to identify.
For us, along with the superb dusk-flying, at which the Bournemouth Air Festival excels, the combination of B-17G 'Sally B' and the Blenheim was certainly a contender. Seeing either of these WW2 bombers is always a treasure, but seeing them together, and being able to contrast their size and form, is not something that happens frequently, even though they share a home at Duxford.
The Strikemaster is always a pleasure to behold, especially with the added dimension of a pairing with a Jet Provost on Saturday, and it was also good to see seven of the aircraft of the Great War Display Team, whose routine incorporating passes and tailchases easily puts the spectator in mind of the dogfights that would have ensued between the actual WW1 machines of which the display aircraft are excellent replicas.
Overall, the Festival was a huge success. Despite a brief downpour on Thursday, and the weather cancellation of nearly all flying on Sunday, there was still plenty to keep the whole family joyfully occupied from after breakfast through to the dusk flying at 8pm and the fireworks at 10pm. The military villages were buzzing with activity and excitement and military music filled much of the interval between daytime and dusk flying. The beach concerts, including the free ones, were varied and to a high standard and children will have found lots to keep themselves and their guardians dipping into their pockets for rides and treats. Or for no money at all there are miles, literally, of sandy beaches, and one or two lawns for those who prefer grass, from which to watch the flying: a schedule of the aircraft is in the table.
Despite this undoubted success there will be many who may question whether, despite some great performances, the total flying package was as special as a 10th anniversary event might deserve. We also felt that breaking the displays into three sessions on Thursday and having to give way to other priorities at Bournemouth airport meant that sequence was sometimes rather fragmented. Overall, as a family seaside festival we thought it was great. As an airshow we felt it was rather underwhelming.
There were fireworks at 10pm from the end of Boscombe Pier on Friday and Bournemouth Pier on Saturday.
Unfortunately, even shows as well organized and as well supported as the Bournemouth Air Festival can suffer when the weather is unfavourable. And unfavourable it was. It was especially bad on Saturday, when there was no afternoon flying. Huge credit to the team at Bournemouth and the pilots. With conditions this bad, some shows would simply have cancelled. But Bournemouth managed to retain a huge chunk of the flying and move it along four hours, turning what could have been a disastrous flying day into a good dusk to evening programme.
The Festival had already been affected, as shows invariably are, by cancellations ahead of the event. Bournemouth had been the only show in the UK to be awarded two displays by the Swiss Air Force. Unfortunately, the F-18 was subsequently cancelled, although the Super Puma did remain on the programme: the only UK show to be awarded the Swiss Super Puma in 2016. The show was also privileged to be allocated the Typhoon for three days, scooping a dusk display on Friday, and was the only show to have the Red Arrows and the Black Cats scheduled for all four days.
The Bournemouth festival is always very well supported by the the naval fraternity. In 2016 both Royal Navy and French vessels: HMS Monmouth, HMS Grimsby, HMS Tyne, RFA Argus and FNS Sagittaire were all offshore adding to the spectacle, providing a photogenic backdrop to the views and to the flying displays and, in some cases, supporting amphibious Royal Navy and Royal Marine beach assault demonstrations when troops and heavy vehicles invaded the beach with support from helicopters launched from the ships.
The small boats were moved further away from the display line following an extension of the maritime exclusion zone. The flotilla of small ships nevertheless also adds to the ambience, as do several of the coastal formations, such as the Needles to the east and 'Old Harry' to the west.
Against this welcoming background the number and variety of aircraft involved in the flying was rather weaker than at previous Bournemouth Air Festivals. The cancellation of the Swiss F-18 was an early disappointment and the lack of a crowd-puller, such as previous years' Vulcan display and the absence of the hugely popular Chinook or the Sea Vixen appeared to have an affect on visitor numbers, further reduced by poor weather for much of the weekend. The official estimate for one of the better days weather-wise was 187,000 on Thursday.
Against this background, Thursday's action in the air lifted to mood somewhat, with a plentiful programme including a bonus appearance by the BBMF with the Lancaster at official opening time around 10.30, and unprogrammed displays by the Swordfish, in formation with the Black Cats, and Sally B during the afternoon. Once again, the action began with a series of passes by a pensioner wingwalker, this year 85 year-old Dawn Goodson raising funds for a motor neurone disease charity, and continued more-or-less on programme, including a rolling display by the Red Arrows, ending with a spectacular series of dusk displays. The Fireflies, Otto the helicopter and AeroSPARX all lighting the dusk skies with LEDs and fireworks off the wings followed by a parachute jump by the Red Devils, who did keep everyone waiting quite a while as they kept gaining height, eventually to 5,000ft.
|Red Arrows (RAF)|
|Eurofighter Typhoon (RAF)|
|Puma helicopter (Swiss Air Force)|
|Black Cats (RN)|
|BBMF Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane|
|B-17G 'Sally B'|
|Breitling Wingwalkers (Friday cancelled)|
|Great War Display Team (Sunday cancelled)|
|Tigers Parachute Display Team|
|Gerald Cooper Xtreme XA41|
|Otto the helicopter (Brendan O'Brien)|
|Cancelled before the show.|
|F/A-18C 'Hornet' (Swiss Air Force) CANCELLED|
|King Air Display Team (RAF) CANCELLED|
|RAF Chinook CANCELLED|
Day two, Friday, began very wet, leaving many spectators fearful that the afternoon's flying might be affected. In the event the start was delayed by an hour but then, for the rest of this day at least, the elements allowed most of the flying to go ahead. The conditions were still gloomy to begin with but the low cloud lifted and even gave way to blue skies periodically although the gusty wind prevailed. The Swordfish was replaced by the Fireflies in the schedule but the weather at the end of the afternoon caused the cancellation of the Wingwalkers, Tigers and Red Devils. The evening flying did go ahead, though, including the Typhoon with a rare dusk display and its second display of the day.
The weather forecast for Saturday was so bad that it was announced on Friday that Saturday's programme would not go ahead as planned. The organisers did manage to run an abbreviated deferred programme from about 5pm, however, although the dusk and evening activities were all called off. On Sunday the Great War display Team were cancelled and the Tigers didn't jump.
The weather that disrupted the flying displays also caused the cancellation of ancillary events. The visits to the ships were affected by the weather and were cancelled on Saturday and Sunday and particular weather casualties were the music shows. The show area had to be cleared early on Friday because of exceptionally high tides, causing the star act, the Kaiser Chiefs, to be cancelled and all shows on Saturday were cancelled because of consequent damage to the stage.
Post Code (for sat nav) BH2 5AA will get you close to Bournemouth pier but ignore the sat nav in favour of local directions signs as soon as you see them.
Bournemouth and the surrounding roads are extremely busy during festival week so the organisers recommend the use of the (chargeable) park & ride schemes.
There are links to other route planners in the Travel Advice section.
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.
Premier Inn have four hotels in Bournemouth and another five in Christchurch and Poole, all between five and ten miles away.
Travelodge have two hotels in Bournemouth and another three within 5 miles of the show.
Click any of the blue names to go to the corresponding web site. The links already have the location built in, but please check, and change as necessary, the dates, number of rooms and number of guests.
A full 7 day Bournemouth weather forecast from the UK Met Office
The Met Office 7-day forecast includes actual and "feels like" temperatures, the likelihood of rain, wind speed, wind direction, wind gusts and visibility: the latter can have an impact on the viability of displays.
The BBC's 14-day forecast has overall conditions including and hourly estimate of temperature, wind direction, wind speed and UV range.
Click the blue-text link to go to the forecast. The location is already built into the links.
September 1 - 4
Not required. This is a free show
Ground events and displays are on all day. Flying is in the afternoons and some early evenings