Sunderland Airshow 2019 hailed a success as organisers and pilots defy the weather to wow crowds
Organisers have hailed another successful year for the Sunderland Airshow as pilots and teams on the ground overcame challenging weather conditions to wow the crowds.
Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Sunderland seafront over the weekend to take in the thrills and spills in the sky and entertainment on the ground on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday.
The event, said to be worth millions to the city’s economy, was dogged by rain and poor visibility which meant some displays, including the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on Saturday and Sunday, had to be cancelled.
In a separate incident, which did not affect the airshow programme, one of the jets involved in the display burst a tyre on landing at Newcastle International Airport, causing delays and diversions to passenger flights.
But there was still plenty to see in the skies, and a packed programme on the ground including DJ Pat Sharp - who launched the Step Up Sunderland fitness challenge as part of his act – as well as music from Sea Cadets and Royal Marines bands, Scouting for Girls, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Olivia Glover.
“This is one of largest events of its kind in the UK and it helps bring in business to the city and people keep coming back,” said Mayor of Sunderland Councillor David Snowdon.
“You can tell by the amount of crowds here what this means to the people of Sunderland. We have been doing this for 31 years and it always gets a good crowd.
“For some people it’s an annual pilgrimage and when I was talking to people on Friday, I found a lot of people had come from Yorkshire.
“People come and spend three days here in Sunderland and they say it’s a fantastic event. They come for this and then they discover we have great beaches and more.”
Coun Snowdon said his three favourites are the Battle if Britain Memorial Flight – which did take place on Friday, the Typhoon, and the Swedish Air Force, which appeared on the bill for the first time this year.
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“They put on a great show and it went on for about 25 minutes,” he said.
Sunderland City Council leader Councillor Graeme Miller said: “As much as there is planned in the skies, there’s always plenty of arena sights and action, dozens of displays in the Military Village, trade and exhibition stalls, plus the huge Funfair, which thousands have enjoyed.”Yes, like any British seaside event the weather can always be an issue and with low cloud and mist, visibility for flying hit the display programme on Saturday.“What we have seen though are plenty of visitors who have been patient, the public have come out in their thousands for a fantastic weekend of free, colourful and, with aircraft that have got up and out, some very loud and spectacular entertainment." Sunday’s flying programme saw the navy’s helicopter team return, the aerobatic Blades display team, Strikemaster pair, the RAF Chinook, Fireflies, and the Swiss Air Force PC-7 Team.Coun Miller added: “On behalf of the people of Sunderland and all who visited the Airshow, I'd like to give a big thank you to everyone who helps make it happen. And thank you for all our visitors."I would especially like to thank all of the military personnel who have given so much time and effort whether they've been in the air or helping in the ground displays."There are many, many strong and long links between the military and the people of Sunderland and the North East. And, we all appreciate their hard work, and their dedication to duty and the work they put into making sure that so many people enjoy their visit to Sunderland Airshow." The RAF Typhoon brought the weekend's flying programme to a close as low cloud came in.Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council's Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture said: "Everyone who has been along the seafront has entered into the spirit of the launch event and got the weekend off to a really great start. "Once again, we’ve had lots of support from a huge number of visitors, and it's always a pleasure to see so many people enjoying themselves. "Each year we deliver an impressive event that shows what Sunderland and its beautiful seafront has to offer."There was a huge amount of interest and support from people, which is a trademark of Sunderland and the North East. "Whether they've been visitors or helping with the event, thanks to all."