13 August 2012
Airbourne celebrated its 20 year anniversary in style with its busiest day ever on Saturday 11 August.
With record crowds flocking to the seafront to see the first ever Vulcan bomber display in Eastbourne, by 2pm car parks at Beachy Head and Five Acre Field became completely full for the first time in the show’s 20 year history.
Eastbourne Borough Council Cabinet Member for Tourism, Cllr Neil Stanley said “I have never seen so many people on the seafront, we certainly had our best turn out ever for the Vulcan. It was wonderful to see this huge gleaming hulk of a jet appear from around the corner at Beachy Head – simply amazing!
Thank you to everyone who supported the event this year, whether by volunteering, donating or purchasing the programmes and radio headsets – its all helping us to keep Airbourne soaring high.”
Thousands continued the celebration on Sunday evening heading to Princes Park for coverage of the London 2012 Closing Ceremony, along with a parachute jump from The Tigers and fireworks from the beaches.
Donation buckets counted so far already amount to the most donations ever collected at Airbourne. Organised by the Eastbourne Hospitality Association, funds are being split with 30% to the RNLI Eastbourne charity and 70% towards the cost of Airbourne. Programme sales have also topped those from last year with just a limited number left to purchase and proceeds supporting the future of Airbourne.
Eastbourne Hospitality Association Vice President, Marco Giorgi said “There was a real feel good factor about the show this year, people really want Airbourne and were more than happy to donate towards the show and the RNLI. The message seemed to get across for the first time this year that if people donate just £1 each then the future of Airbourne is assured. The show costs a huge amount to put on and can never be taken for granted. However well it’s supported financially, that £1 in the bucket gives the organisers a clear message that the people of Eastbourne want the show to continue".
The Vulcan display proved a real hit bringing in extra crowds, with Southern Railway seeing record numbers of visitors into Eastbourne station.
Eastbourne Station Manager, Graham Thrower said: “Over 36 per cent more people used Eastbourne station to get to and from the airshow compared to Saturday last year. To be fair to everyone, we once again instigated a queuing system which worked extremely well. Everyone was in good spirits, and everyone got home with the minimum amount of delay to their journey.”
EHA Vice President, Marco Giorgi also added “Hotels restaurants and pubs were all packed over the weekend, especially for Saturday’s Vulcan display – superb! Well done to all of the organisers for taking a risk on the Vulcan.”
A low bank of cloud and mist directly over Eastbourne seafront on Thursday did however lead to the cancellation of flying displays that day. The low cloud base of only 300 feet in Eastbourne and 1-200 feet at Shoreham Airport, meant that some aircraft could not get airborne and others could not display safely.
However crowds still enjoyed the ground displays, including the new tri-service exhibition with new exhibits of an inflatable assault course, Army paint balling and an Apache helicopter simulator all proving very popular. Blue skies early on Friday meant visitors enjoyed bonus practice flying displays from many teams in the morning followed by a full display in the afternoon.
For fans who missed the show, exclusive photos and cockpit footage are available to view online, including the Jet Provost display and the Royal Navy Raiders Parachute jump. Fans can also share their own photos and video on the Airbourne Facebook page.
There is still time to donate or buy a special edition 20th anniversary souvenir programme. To buy or donate online visit the Airbourne website or donate at the Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre or Seafront Office.
Airbourne returns in 2013 from Thursday 15 – Sunday 18 August.