Sunderland Airshow roars into action + VIDEO + LIVE COVERAGE

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THE airshow weekend got off to a flying start as thousands enjoyed its launch under clear blue skies.

Last night’s event at Cliffe Park, Seaburn, drew in the opening party’s biggest ever crowds as families enjoyed a preview of the two-day flying festival.

The Sunderland International Airshow launch event at Cliffe Park, Sunderland.

The Sunderland International Airshow launch event at Cliffe Park, Sunderland.

>>>Click here to launch the Echo’s live airshow blog

Visitors were given a taster of what is to come with a performance by a Second World War Mustang and the SWIP Twister Duo, whose display featured fireworks as pyrotechnics were also launched on land to mark the end of the event.

Organisers ran with the theme of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, with the Heavy Cavalry and Cambrian Band, a show by Acrofanatics circus and acrobatic skills and a set by the Counterfeit Sixties lighting the way for X Factor stars, The Risk.

The group includes Ashford Campbell, brother of Sunderland AFC striker Fraizer, who was unable to make the event as he is playing a pre-season tour in South Korea.

The Sunderland International Airshow launch event at Cliffe Park, Sunderland The fireworks finale to the show.

The Sunderland International Airshow launch event at Cliffe Park, Sunderland The fireworks finale to the show.

Ashford said: “He was absolutely devastated not to be here. He’s happy he’s playing football again, but the one time we play, he’s away.

“It’s nice for us to be here and I’ve been to Sunderland so many times.

“The crowd here are amazing and there’s seriously good weather tonight.”

The band tweeted after their performance to congratulate a pregnant woman, who reportedly went into labour during their show, with the woman transported from the front crowd in an ambulance.

The Sunderland International Airshow launch event at Cliffe Park, Sunderland. The Risk performing to the crowds

The Sunderland International Airshow launch event at Cliffe Park, Sunderland. The Risk performing to the crowds

Coun John Kelly, cabinet member for safer city and culture, said: “The turnout tonight is massive and we think we’ll have a million people down here over the weekend.”

Sylvia Jackson, 40, of Hendon, was among those who enjoyed the night.

She said: “I love coming down to watch the aeroplanes and will be coming down on both Saturday and Sunday and always look forward to it.

“This night is really good and it’s the best airshow in the world.”

The Sunderland International Airshow launch event at Cliffe Park, Sunderland. Sylvia Jackson with  enjoys a dance with her neighbour's son Sean Tiga, 4.

The Sunderland International Airshow launch event at Cliffe Park, Sunderland. Sylvia Jackson with enjoys a dance with her neighbour's son Sean Tiga, 4.

Garry Wilkinson, 46, wife Carol, 43, and their daughter Emma, 11, were also enjoying the evening.

Garry said: “The best bit of the weekend has got to be the Red Arrows and the noisy jets, but I have to say, I love it all.”

Yesterday, Sunderland mayoress Barbara McClennan showed her daredevil side when she did a wing walk on a biplane at Newcastle airport.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham

•Echo readers can be part of our airshow coverage. We’re running a live blog over the weekend, add your tweets and pictures using #sunderlandairshow

Programme:

The Sunderland International Airshow launch event at Cliffe Park, Sunderland. Happy family Garry and Carol Wilkinson with their daughter Emma, 11.

The Sunderland International Airshow launch event at Cliffe Park, Sunderland. Happy family Garry and Carol Wilkinson with their daughter Emma, 11.

Saturday and Sunday:

From 10am until 6pm will both days the coastline at Seaburn and Roker in Sunderland filled with the sights and sounds of the Sunderland International Airshow with a programme of entertainment in the skies and on the ground, including RAF Falcons and The Red Arrows.

•Flying displays (not shown in sequence of flying order):

Representing the Royal Air Force:

Red Arrows

RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team

Battle of Britain Memorial flight

(Lancaster/Hurricane/Spitfire)

2 Tornado GR4’s in a role demo

Typhoon fighter aircraft

Tutor

Tucano - sporting a new colour scheme for 2012!

King Air

Representing the Royal Navy:

Black Cats Lynx Helicopter Display Team

Civilian displays will include:

The Breitling Wingwalkers

SWIP Twister Duo

Miss Demeanour

Catalina Flying Boat

P51 Mustang

RV8-tors

Matadors

Xtreme Air Sbach 300 flown by G. Cooper

•Parking

Visitors are encouraged to use city centre car park facilities

Limited Park and Ride spaces will be available at:

Fulwell Quarry (near the Millers Inn, SR5 1JT) for a small charge of £5 per car

Sunderland Enterprise Park, Sunderland SR5 3XB – £1 per person return

Stadium of Light, Sunderland SR5 1SU – £1 per person return

Disabled parking is available on site at the rear of Morrisons supermarket, Whitburn Road, Sunderland. SR6 8AA

Shopmobility will be located outside of the Seaburn Centre both Saturday and Sunday between 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m and will provide wheelchairs at no cost.

Seaburn Centre, Whitburn Road, Sunderland. SR6 8AA

Please note:

Downhill Community North Complex park and ride will now not be operating due to unsuitable ground conditions

No seafront parking will be available due to the unsuitable ground conditions

•Toilets

Toilet provisions are available across the site

Deck chairs will not be available to hire at the Airshow site. Please feel free to bring your own seats along to the event

•Public Transport

There a number of public transport services to the seafront, for further details please contact: Traveline: 0870 608 2 608 www.traveline-northeast.co.uk

Nearest Metro Station: Seaburn (15mins walk to the seafront). Additional Metro trains will be running on both days.You can get more information at http://www.nexus.org.uk/explore/we-recommend/sunderland-airshow

Go North East will be running extra buses to the Airshow site. For details go to www.simplygo.com

Stagecoach will be operating service 510 – a direct bus service to link Fawcett Street in the City Centre to the Seaburn Recreational Ground at the Airshow event site. A revised service will operate for the duration of Airshow event on services E1, E2, E6. Please visit www.stagecoachbus.com/sunderland for further information.

•Road Closures

A road Closure will be in place from Marriott Roundabout to Bungalow Cafe’ on Friday 20 July from 2pm until 11pm

Road closures will be in place from Morrisons Roundabout to Bungalow Cafe’on Saturday and Sunday from 9am until 7pm. Resident permits will be hand delivered week commencing 9 July 2012. Any additional permits can be collected from the administration cabin located on Cliffe Park from Tuesday 17 July. Proof of address must be shown.