Sunderland International Airshow hailed as a soaraway success

The roar of the RAF Typhoon brought to a close a successful 28th Sunderland International Airshow.

Sunday, 24th July 2016, 5:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 7:49 pm
HMS Bulwark formed an impressive backdrop to this year's Airshow

It's estimated that up to a million spectators flocked to Roker and Seaburn this weekend to see dozens of aircraft take to the skies for a spectacular display of agility and power.

Attractions at the annual free event included perennial crowd favourites The Red Arrows who put on a show-stopping performance of aerial acrobatics at Friday night's opening ceremony and to close the first day of flying on Saturday.

The amphibious beach assault

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Today the Eurofighter Typhoon, which can reach speeds of 700 miles an hour, could be heard for miles as it soared over the coastline to cap off a second full day of flying, which was brought forward an hour due to the poor weather.

Other highlights included the super fast display team The Blades, which is made up of former RAF Red Arrows pilots; the RAF Falcons who parachuted onto the beach; The Tigers who hurtled to the ground at 100 miles an hour; World War II fighter plane P51 Mustang; the agile Royal Navy Black Cats; the P40 Kittyhawk; the Red Bull Matadors and the historic Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which featured the Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane.

On the ground, there were plenty of cheers for the amphibious beach assault demonstration, which showcased the versatility of British Forces in a combined Navy-Army operation against a fictional enemy. The beach was closed as explosives shot into the sky and gun fire rang out as troops made their way from HMS Bulwark to Seaburn beach.

The Tigers, made up of super-skilled parachutists from The Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment, made the journey from their base in Paderborn, Germany, to perform on both days of the Airshow.

RAF Falcons

Commanding Officer Captain Ian Wicks said: "We've had a fantastic time here. We jumped using three parachutes linked together, which is the first time we've done that, and the crowd really liked it. The organisers said it's the best display they've seen us do.

"This was our second year at Sunderland and it's certainly become a highlight for us. You get a different perspective from the sky and it's amazing to be 6,000ft above the ground looking down at all the little dots. We deploy the parachutes at 3,500ft and you can start to hear the crowds then so I always encourage people to cheer loudly."

Also performing across the two days were the Royal Navy Black Cats in a display which marked their 15th year at the show.

This year the four-man helicopter display team were sponsored by the namesakes, Sunderland AFC, and the team stayed in the new Hilton Garden Inn that's been built in the shadow of the Stadium of Light.

Russian built MIG 15 leading two De Haviland Vampires at Sunderland Air Show on Sunday

Lieutenant Commander Mike West said: "The club have been brilliant in looking after us and the people of Sunderland have been very welcoming and friendly. When you walk through the crowds lots of people stop and ask us about the aircraft, they're very interested in what we do."

Sue Stanhope, Airshow Director, said: "The weather was a little more disappointing today than it was yesterday, but it hasn't stopped people coming along to watch the displays."

Asked whether she had a favourite amongst the aircraft, she said: "I couldn't choose one, they all bring something different to the event. It's great to have The Typhoon here, what's not to love about that noise? Then you have the Battle of Britain, which is always very evocative.

"We've had hundreds of thousands of people coming along today and, over the course of the weekend, up to a million people. No one else in the area has an event quite like this and it's something we are very proud of.

The Royal Navy Black Cats

"We are now in our 28th year and we couldn't keep doing it if people didn't keep coming, it's very much their event. Sunderland is a city with many military connections and this event is so important to the city. It's very inspirational for young people to be able to see the aircraft in the sky and meet people on the ground who they can talk to about a future career. It could be them flying one day."

Crowds enjoying the spectacle
RAF Falcons dropping onto Seaburn Beach
RAF Typhoon closing today's show
The Tigers
45 Commando Royal Marines emerge from their landing craft during their beach assault at Seaburn on Sunday
Crowds today
The amphibious beach assault
RAF Falcons
Russian built MIG 15 leading two De Haviland Vampires at Sunderland Air Show on Sunday
The Royal Navy Black Cats
Crowds enjoying the spectacle
RAF Falcons dropping onto Seaburn Beach
RAF Typhoon closing today's show
The Tigers
45 Commando Royal Marines emerge from their landing craft during their beach assault at Seaburn on Sunday
Crowds today