Classic craft hit the skies

BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL FLIGHT: An Avro Lancaster is escorted by a Hawker Hurricane and a Supermarine Spitfire.
BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL FLIGHT: An Avro Lancaster is escorted by a Hawker Hurricane and a Supermarine Spitfire.
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PLUMES of red, white and blue smoke filled the skies above the seafront as the Red Arrows opened the 25th Sunderland International Airshow in spectacular style.

Earlier last night the thousands, who’d turned up to soak up the sun and enjoy the airshow’s opening event at Cliffe Park, enjoyed the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight which fly in tribute to the aviators of the second World War.

It set the scene for all the high-flying action taking place along Roker and Seaburn today and tomorrow for the annual extravaganza.

As part of the opening event, the band of HM Royal Marines Scotland took to the stage to perform classic music including the Dambusters March while Wearside-based tribute band Re-Take That performed the boy band’s best hits.

The biggest cheers, however, were reserved for crowd favourites the Red Arrows who soared through the sky with formations including a diamond, Concorde and a fighter jet shape.

Linda Podd, 58, from Pennywell, and her family were among the crowds enjoying the sights on show.

“We come to the airshow every single year, in rain, fog, whatever the weather. It’s a great thing for Sunderland, we wouldn’t miss it.” said the mum-of-five.

She added: “I’ve brought the kids since they were little and we always enjoy it.

“Tonight has been brilliant, especially the Red Arrows, they gave me goose bumps.”

This year’s event – the largest free airshow in Europe – features more than 10­­ hours of flying displays.

Highlights are set to include a special appearance tomorrow by the Vulcan, which was designed to carry nuclear weapons during the Cold War. It last appeared at Sunderland’s airshow two years ago. Sunderland City Council’s airshow director, Sue Stanhope, said: “A lot of hard work has been going on by all concerned behind the scenes to confirm the appearance of this iconic aircraft.

“I hope everyone who comes to the airshow will agree with me that the effort was all worthwhile to secure such a great addition to an already first class flying programme.”

In addition to the Vulcan, the line- up also features, among others, the Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team and the Royal Navy Black Cats Solo Lynx, Tucano, Typhoon and a first-time appearance of the Royal Netherlands Airforce AH64D Apache attack helicopter.

l For a full list of the aircraft flying throughout the weekend and for up to date event information, call the hotline on 520 5518 or follow @SunderlandLive on Twitter or