Sunderland International Airshow set to get off to a flier as display planes take to the skies

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The stage is set for the Sunderland International Airshow after the skies were tested by display planes this morning.

The iconic airshow is returning to the city this weekend.

From left, Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for safer city and culture, Counr John Kelly, with deputy leader Harry Trueman, head of events Victoria French and Blades Pilot Chris Carder and The Blades display team ahead of the Sunderland International Airshow.

From left, Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for safer city and culture, Counr John Kelly, with deputy leader Harry Trueman, head of events Victoria French and Blades Pilot Chris Carder and The Blades display team ahead of the Sunderland International Airshow.

Historic aircraft and exciting display teams have already started to arrive in the North East to complete their preparations.

The first to practice their man manoeuvres today were the Blades display team and the OV-10 Bronco.

They even took some volunteers into the skies as passengers, including Coun Harry Trueman, the deputy leader of Sunderland City Council.

He told of his excitement after flying with the Blades, made up of former Red Arrows pilots.

The Blades display team take to the skies ahead of the airshow.

The Blades display team take to the skies ahead of the airshow.

Coun Trueman said: "It was a fantastic experience, being on board helps you appreciate even more the tremendous speeds these aircraft fly at and the amazing skills of the pilots who fly them.

"We are very lucky our airshow continues to attract some of the finest aerial display teams in the world.

"From the RAF Falcons and the Tigers parachute display teams, to the Red Arrows, Typhoon and Battle of Britain Memorial flight, there is something for everybody."

Coun Trueman added: "We have worked hard with our community safety partners to plan for this event, and make sure that people feel re-assured and safe.

The Blades display team are ready to entertain the crowds in Sunderland.

The Blades display team are ready to entertain the crowds in Sunderland.

"Police officers will provide a visible but friendly presence at the airshow, and I hope everyone will help them make this a fantastic weekend.”

Tonight, visitors will be treated to live music from the stage at Cliffe Park, in Seaburn, while there will be a flying display from some of the leading attractions from 4pm and a fireworks display at 9.50pm.

The main event is tomorrow and Sunday, with the display programme to begin at 11am tomorrow with the RAF Falcons Display Team.

Sergeant Paul Smith, from the team, said: "We are all very much looking forward to opening this year's airshow on Saturday.

Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for safer city and culture, Coun John Kelly, and head of events Victoria French with The Blades display team ahead of the Sunderland International Airshow.

Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for safer city and culture, Coun John Kelly, and head of events Victoria French with The Blades display team ahead of the Sunderland International Airshow.

"Each time we jump here, the crowds in Sunderland give us a great welcome which we all really appreciate.

"Fingers crossed for good weather!"

Northumbria Police's Silver Commander for the Sunderland International Airshow, Superintendent Sarah Pitt, said: "Standing alongside the aircraft this morning helps you realise what magnificent machines they are, and how supremely skilled and highly trained the pilots who fly them must be.

“I hope everyone is looking forward to the airshow, and will help us ensure that we are all able to enjoy it.”

She added: "This weekend promises to be a fantastic weekend and we're really looking forward to it.

"We will have officers on patrol in and around the city throughout the airshow weekend and I would encourage people to stop and speak to them, they are there to support visitors to the event and our local communities and will help in anyway they can.

The Blades display team are ready to impress thousands of spectators in Sunderland.

The Blades display team are ready to impress thousands of spectators in Sunderland.

"For those going along who want to get involved then please send us your pictures from the event and we'll try and share as many as we can on social media, and if you can one with a police officer even better!"

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, said: "The airshow is always a calendar highlight, not only is it popular with the people of Sunderland, it attracts visitors from all over.

"Events like this require a lot of hard work and planning to ensure everything runs smoothly and safely for all who attend, so I want to thank all those involved – organisers, our police officers and partners – without them the event wouldn’t be the year on year success it’s famous for. I hope this will be the best yet!"

Details of the full weekend display programme are available at www.sunderlandinternationalairshow.co.uk