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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
•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
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:
RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team
Battle of Britain Memorial flight
2 Tornado GR4’s in a role demo
Typhoon fighter aircraft
Tucano - sporting a new colour scheme for 2012!
Representing the Royal Navy:
Black Cats Lynx Helicopter Display Team
Civilian displays will include:
The Breitling Wingwalkers
SWIP Twister Duo
Catalina Flying Boat
Xtreme Air Sbach 300 flown by G. Cooper
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
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
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
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.
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.