I have decided to make this page because of all the questions asked by people who are new to UK Airshows
or have decided to come to the UK to see an Airshow. This page is for enthusiasts and also families looking for a
pleasant day out. I shall firstly mention the major UK Airshows & Seafront Displays and what they have to offer along with links to more
detailed information, then include camera/scanner equipment etc, and also tips on what to take to Airshows.
If your interest lies in pioneering aircraft including WWI, inter-war, up to WWII aircraft then the ideal Airshow venue
has to be Shuttleworth (Old Warden), in Bedfordshire. This is a small, relaxed Airshow in the lovely Bedfordshire
countryside which houses the Shuttleworth Collection which contains aircraft such as the Bleriot Type XI (1909), Deperdussin (1910), Bristol Boxkite (1910), Blackburn Monoplane (1912), Sopwith Pup (1916), S.E.5a (1917), right up to the Spitfire Mk.Vc (1941)
and many more. All of these aircraft are airworthy and many of the Shuttleworth collection are original but it needs to be a calm day to display the early Edwardian examples. There are several full airshows, and evening flying events throughout the season.
Duxford in Cambridgeshire is a very popular venue for warbird enthusiasts. There is an extensive museum
which is free to look around during an Airshow and includes many WWII examples. The Museum has a great shop for those of you who like collectables or are just looking for a way to commemorate the day, one of the airfield's t-shirts can be a great way to do that. The museum's t-shirt printing comes in many different designs and are great gifts for all ages. Duxford is home to the Imperial War Museum Collection (IWM), The Fighter Collection (TFC), The Old Flying Machine Company (OFMC), The Aircraft Restoration Company (ARC), Historic Aircraft Collection (HAC), B-17 Preservation Society etc. The airfield itself is an historic site dating back to 1918. In the second world war it was home to the first operational Spitfire squadron. Duxford's fighters were frequently scrambled against the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. Duxford has several Airshows during the season with the popular 2-day Flying Legends Air Show usually being held in July. This is the best airshow if you are interested in WW2 aircraft and warbirds.
ROYAL INTERNATIONAL AIR TATTOO (RIAT)
The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the largest military airshow in the world containing hundreds of modern military aircraft
in the static line-up and air display from many different countries around the world. This Airshow is usually held
at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire which is a large base used infrequently by USAF deployments which makes it an
ideal venue for such a large Airshow. RIAT usually takes place over a weekend in July, although you can also view the
aircraft on arrival days and departure day. As with most large airshows it is advisable to get to this event early to avoid traffic congestion.
Farnborough in Hampshire has a biennial commercial airshow that lasts for 10 days concluding with a public display on the final weekend. The Farnborough Airshow usually takes place just after the Royal International Air Tattoo so they can share aircraft with this event. There is a mixture of modern civilian and military aircraft from around the world. Farnborough is the oldest active airfield in the UK and is home to the Royal Aerospace Establishment (RAE) which tests and develops different aircraft types. Damaged aircraft are often brought here for accident investigation.
RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire hosts the major RAF Airshow, which is very popular, and usually held in late June or early July.
Since 1995, Waddington has been home to the RAF's biggest Air Show. It has a well-earned reputation for appealing to enthusiasts and families alike, and is considered one of the UK's top airshows. The display includes many modern RAF aircraft, foreign aircraft, and display teams. RAF Waddington is a fully operational unit of No 3 Group within RAF Strike Command and is home to the RAF's airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft. 3 resident squadrons, No 8, No 23 and No 51 operate the Boeing E-3D Sentry and Nimrod R1 aircraft in these roles. The E-3D aircraft of Nos 8 and 23 Squadrons also constitute the UK Component of the NATO Airborne Early Warning Force. The newly re-formed 5(AC) Sqn, expected to receive its Sentinel R1 aircraft operate in the ASTOR (Airborne Stand-Off Radar) role. The RAF Waddington International Air Show has been cancelled for 2015 due to the ongoing £35 million rebuild of the runway.
RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset is home to the Fleet Air Arm's Sea Harrier aircraft and helicopters that deploy aboard the Royal Navy's three aircraft carriers. There is usually an Airshow held here in July. The Air Show which features many Royal Navy aircraft as well as RAF and Army participation usually ends with an exciting Commando Assault Demonstration.
Yeovilton is also home to the Fleet Air Arm Museum which has more than 40 aircraft on display with as many again in storage or refurbishment.
The Royal Navy Sea Harrier F/A2s retired in 2006 and were replaced with Harrier GR7/9 aircraft which are expected to be replaced with the stealthy Joint Strike Fighter and be operated from the Royal Navy's Future Aircraft Carriers.
Culdrose in Cornwall hosts the RNAS Culdrose Air Day which usually takes place in July. RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall is one of Europe's largest helicopter bases. The helicopters and their highly trained crews are deployed to ships all over the world to support the Royal Navy in its global operations. Helicopter roles include Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Surface Warfare and Airborne Surveillance and Control. Also, a Squadron of Search & Rescue helicopters is on constant standby 365-days a year to react to emergencies throughout the Southwest region. The Culdrose Air Day includes a mixture of aircraft from the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, foreign display aircraft, warbirds, classic jets, and display teams.
Biggin Hill is a very famous fighter station. Unfortunately, the Biggin Hill International Air Fair saw its last air show in 2010, after Biggin Hill Airport Ltd gave notice to Air Displays International Ltd to terminate the licence under which the Biggin Hill International Air Fair is run. A smaller airshow called Biggin Hill Festival of Flight can be seen in June.
RAF Cosford in Shropshire hosts a popular air display in the Midlands usually in June. The display usually includes modern RAF aircraft, sometimes foreign participation, display teams, and historic aircraft. It is also home to the Aerospace museum which is an extension to the main museum at Hendon and includes the new Cold War museum which is well worth a visit. The museum is free on airshow days. The runway is fairly short which means that modern jets are usually operated from nearby RAF Shawbury so they do not have to land at RAF Cosford. It is advisable to get to the Cosford airshow very early and stay for an hour or so after the show to avoid traffic congestion.
Shoreham Air Show takes place at Shoreham Airport in West Sussex over two days in September. The Shoreham airshow is one of the premier airshows in the UK with easy access to the show, a wonderful backdrop, increased ground attractions and a large static display which makes it a true family day. Located at the UK's oldest licensed airport, the highly picturesque venue, with the backdrop of the Downs and dominated by Lancing college, provides the perfect backdrop for stunning displays in the air and exciting attractions on the ground. The airshow has flying and static displays by a variety of aircraft such as fast jets, military helicopters, aerobatic aircraft, and historic aircraft. A variety of ground displays by local organisations including the local flying clubs, the armed forces, and classic cars and vehicles.
All proceeds from the airshow go to the Royal Air Forces Association
The Manston Airshow takes place at Manston Airport in Kent in June. The long awaited Airshow returns after many years and will be a spectacular event, together with lots of other attractions for all the family. AS Enterprises and Heritage Events bring this incredibly popular airshow back to Manston Airport after many years absence. Unfortunately, the Manston airshow has been cancelled for 2014/2015.
MAJOR SEAFRONT AIRSHOWS:
Southend-on-Sea in Essex is one of Europe's largest free airshows with more than half a million people lining the town's seven-mile shore over the two day spectacular. This two-day event which usually takes place on a Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday includes a good mixture in the flying display including modern RAF & RN participation along with display teams, aerobatic aircraft, and historic aircraft. There is also plenty of entertainment taking place on the ground with various displays and demonstrations. Most of the aircraft that display at Southend operate out of London Southend Airport at Rochford and the airport has Open Days during the Southend Airshow so that people can see the aircraft at close quarters. These Open Days attract many thousands of people to the airport and its resident Vulcan (XL426) can usually be seen on both days doing a taxi-run. In 2013, Southend Borough Council announced its intention to cancel the event citing budget cuts and lack of sponsorship. In response to this announcement Thomas Curtis and John Delaney formed a campaign to ‘save the airshow’ and called it the Southend Airshow and Military Festival. The show will not take place in 2015 and details can be found here.
The Eastbourne International Airshow, also called Airbourne, is now one of the the world’s biggest free seafront airshows which attracts nearly a million people over the four days from Thursday to Sunday in August.
Participating aircraft include the Royal Air Force, Army, Navy, Civilian, Display teams, Warbirds, and International aircraft. There are also many ground attractions including a funfair, stalls, exhibits, arena displays, helicopter rides, and plenty of entertainment for the kids including giant inflatables, and trampolining on two designated beach areas.
The Southport Seafront Air Show is recognised as the North West's largest Airshow attracting up to 150,000 spectators over two days. Combining a spectacular air display with a host of ground activities, the Southport Airshow is an exhilarating and fun-filled experience that the whole family can enjoy. The flying programme includes a good mixture of military and civilian aircraft, classic jets, warbirds, helicopters, aerobatics and parachute displays. The show features a whole host of trade stands, interactive and educational displays, simulators and children's activities. In previous years Southport Airshow has included a Military Display including a dramatic simulated battle on the beach involving Army reserve forces complete with explosions and military vehicles. Many of the aircraft that display at Southport operate out of nearby Blackpool Airport.
The Clacton Airshow takes place on the sea front at Clacton-on-Sea in Essex. The show usually takes place on a Thursday and Friday in August and is expected to attract 90,000 spectators.
This free, two-day event, includes a good mixture in the flying display including RAF participation along with display teams, aerobatic aircraft, and historic aircraft. On the ground there will be exhibits from the Army and RAF, children's activities, simulator, climbing and entertainment areas along the Clacton seafront.
A wide range of trade stands and a food court with a sumptuous selection of refreshments will be on hand. After the show there will be a chance to do some late night shopping with many of the retail stores staying open late.
The The Bournemouth Air Festival takes place over four days in August. The FREE four day spectacular is set against the backdrop of Bournemouth's seven miles of award-winning beaches, beautiful bay and glorious gardens.
The Festival includes amazing air displays (from classic flying machines to modern day speed machines!), Sea Displays, Interactive Static Displays, Fireworks, Familiy Fun Attractions, and Music & Live Entertainment.
The festival takes place between Bournemouth and Boscombe Piers and in the Lower Gardens and the number of visitors are anticipated to be in excess of up to 200,000 per day.
The Sunderland International Air Show usually takes place over two days on the last weekend of July.
The coastline at Seaburn and Roker in Sunderland will be filled with the sights and sounds of one of the largest FREE airshows in Europe during the last weekend in July. With high-speed jets, breathtaking display teams and precision flying in the air and a massive choice of activities on the ground, there's something for all the family at this action-packed weekend.
The Folkestone -Shepway Airshow is in Kent.
The Shepway Airshow first began in 1990 when they had a 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain airshow. The Shepway District Council continued with an airshow every year up until 2001. They then had an airshow in 2003 which sadly was its last due to the growing costs of running this event. However the event returns in 2012 with the Folkestone (Shepway) Jubilee Airshow which takes place on 2nd June 2012. The display is centred on 'The Leas' which gives a superb view from the high vantage point above the cliffs.
WELSH AIR SHOWS
Wales boasts four events including the Wales National Air Show in Swansea, the Llandudno Air Show, Welshpool Air Show, and the Rhyl Air Show.
SMALLER AIR DISPLAYS
There are many very good smaller events such as the increasingly popular Abingdon Air & Country Show in Oxfordshire, Sywell in Northants, Dunsfold in Surrey, Dawlish in Devon, and Little Gransden in Cambs to name just a few and also smaller Sea-Front Displays held in the Summer around the UK. There are also many smaller displays around the country including Fly-ins and Open Days. See the UK Airshow Calendar which lists many of the smaller air displays as well as the major events.
It's worth mentioning the Mildenhall Air Fete as it was a very popular 2-day airshow held at the American base at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk. This event has not taken place since 2001 and it is not known if it another Air Fete will take place at Mildenhall again. A small 'community event' was planned for 2005 but this too was cancelled. With the loss of the other Airshows held at former American bases such as Alconbury and Upper Heyford, it is a shame to see the end of Mildenhall's Air Fete.
Also worth a mention is Middle Wallop which is home to the Army Air Corps. Middle Wallop has the largest grass airfield in Europe and there used to be an International Air Display held here. Occasionally smaller events such as 'Music in the Air' or 'Wallop' have taken place here.