27th-30th August 2009 – Now in its 18th year, Clacton Air Show, organised by Tendring District Council attracts in excess of 120,000 visitors to the midweek show. Peter Wells joined the Swift team at Clacton Airfield and was promptly interviewed by ITV Anglia’s Lorna Ramsey, and later by Jenny Line of Dream100 Radio who were covering the event
Clacton is unusual amongst seaside shows, as the glider can perform solo aerobatics and land at the Airfield – only 2km from the display line. Thursday presented blue skies and a stiff breeze but by Friday the surface wind was gusting 25kts across the runway and occasional showers made for a challenging day for photographers and pilots alike.
The following day was one of the highlights of our display calendar – The final day of the World Aerobatic Championships at Silverstone, and the first time the competition has been held on UK soil since South Cerney in 1986.
Over the past 50 years, World Champions have typically come from the Eastern block countries, but this year belonged to the French, who took the team trophy and crowned the new Champion of the World, Renaud Ecalle. With the “Classic” competition completed before we arrived, day 10 of the event was the 4 minute Freestyle, an opportunity for 15 select pilots to impress the judges with their choice of manoeuvres set to music.
The two pilots who impressed the most however, were Jurgis Kairys in his Su26M3 and Renaud Ecalle, who got a clean sweep in his Extra330SC with an incredible rolling loop and a performance that combined aggression and grace to win him his second World title of the year.
The Air Show which followed was a great mix of the country’s best acts including the Blades, Aerostars, Guinot and the Vulcan. Paul Moslin took his familiar seat in the Pawnee for the rest of the weekend and we were assisted by team members Mike Newman and Paul Barker for the day.
The last day of our Bank Holiday weekend marathon started at Little Gransden for the Charity Car & Air Day in aide of Children in Need were we met Mark Jeffries draining the red dye from his Extra330SC smoke tank that he had carefully prepared for the WAC freestyle, but not used.
The charity show has built up quite a following under the leadership of Dave Poile MBE and a capacity crowd of 5,000 helped a record donation to Pudsey’s charity.
The wind remained strong as we flew south towards Dunsfold in the afternoon and we reached a slow moving weather front west of London. Initially visibility remained good away from the showers, but soon cloudbase was dropping and we only just cleared the North Downs to be treated to the Vulcan performing under the low cloudbase. A very impressive sight.
Several flying acts had cancelled with the weather and a range of technical problems, but that did not detract from record crowds of 25,000 for the Wings and Wheels event.