Day two of Sunderland Airshow 2018 threatens to be a washout

A THUNDERSTORM had left them grim and grounded the night before.

But the hundreds of thousands who packed Sunderland’s promenade for day two of the city’s famous airshow – celebrating its 30th anniversary – enjoyed a rich reward.

World class pilots and daring international display teams took to the skies above the crowded seafront staging fly-pasts, stunts and aerobatics in rare military and civilian aircraft.

An ear-shattering highlight was the Eurofighter. One moment the deafening supersonic jet whooshed at a blue horizon, next it looped through the threatening dark sky over Souter lighthouse.

And any would-be fast flyer among the awe-struck spectators could try controlling the combat aircraft in a high-tech simulator on the ground – one of the myriad of land-based attractions.

One little fan, 2-year-old Solomon West, was too small to take the ride.

But he was dressed the part in his Red Arrow flight suit, his mum‘s large sunglasses a substitute for Aviators.

It’s our 10th time this year,” Helen said. “Solomon just turned two and it’s already his second air show.

For any North East resident, attending the airshow is a right of passage. This year the atmosphere is as great as ever and we have a good view of the stunts.”

Behind the scenes, a huge operation had been put in place with an army of volunteers making sure, the event ran safely and smoothly.

Sunderland council and public transport companies provided increased services, including parking, online maps of road closures, and additional busses. Metro-managers Nexus had anticipated the stream of visitors.

Customer Services Director Huw Lewis, said:

Metro plays a key role getting thousands of people to the Airshow, and we will have extra trains running to cope with the demand.”

There were staff at Seaburn station to get queues of people safely to the seafront and back onto the trains.

Children were given neon yellow wristbands with their names and addresses on them. Any who got separated could be picked up by their parents at lost person stands.

Not everything though, went according to plan.

As the wind was getting stronger, organisers cancelled all parachute-drops and pulled the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight, consisting of a Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster.

Northumbria Police also had to herd people back from the water’s edge as the sea level was rising and waves splashed against the seawall.

Regular visitors had come prepared with rainmacs and umbrellas. But despite the day threatening to become another washout, the weather stayed dry until the grande finale.

The famous Red Arrows closed the flight displays with some of their most iconic moves, including the tornado, corkscrew, python, and centenary split – a perfect match for the 100th anniversary of the RAF.

“It is a wonderful feeling to be able to celebrate the 30th show with an evening of incredible air displays.”, City Councellor John Kelly said.

But the fun didn’t end with the last trails of Red Arrow smoke. The Main stage at Cliffe Park became the main focus of attention with a vivid line up of live music till late night.

Photo Credit: © Florian Vitello
Europe Latin America

Salsa with Solano

Nolberto Solano sat in the middle of the bar, leaned into a conversation with friends. A short but feisty man joked, alternating rapidly between Spanish and English. The man talked, Solano listened.

The venue was near to empty with only a handful of people scattered all over the place, minding their own business. Shiny effigies of Inca gods alongside an impressive collection of Peruvian ornaments covered the walls, reflecting opaque party lights that left the room in semi-darkness.

When the company finally noticed me, the feisty man approached with a mischievous grin. “Bienvenido, welcome to Rumba – the only true Latin American Restobar in Newcastle”, he said while performing an intricate bow. His exuberant mannerism made Solano and his friends a mere backdrop of the scene. But Solano didn’t mind.

He had been inconspicuous most of the evening, leaving center stage to his extroverted friend. Except now, as Hector Lavoe’s salsa evergreen “Periódico de Ayer” (which translates as “Yesterday’s Newspaper”) opened up the dance floor, his facial features brightened.

May I?“, the football icon said to a woman next to me and a few moments later she twirled past the counter, the hem of her dress spiralling flirtatiously around her legs. After the dance he paid my first round. He smiled, observing the dancing crowd who had immersed in some catchy beats.

I saw contentment in a man who, at forty-something-years-old, had already achieved so much that he could now relax, lean back and enjoy other people’s experiences. When asked how he manages to keep such a low profile, he shook his head.

I’m, just a guy who’s good at kicking a ball”, the Newcastle United legend said. His dark eyes were cast down as he stared at his shoes like a shy shoolboy. Indeed, no one seemed to pay any special attention to one more dancer.

Being a footballer doesn’t make you more important than any other line of work”, he added, a man clearly humbled by a life of early hardship.

In Latin-America his story of struggle, being the youngest of seven children and playing football in the streets of Callao, is relatable for the public. The fact that Solano’s success-story actually produced a polite human being with a down-to-Earth manner, is yet another reason for Peruvians to adore their “Ñol”, who had already trotted back to the dance floor after paying a second round.

He signalled I come over, placing two heavy congas in front of me, starting to beat a drum. Once I had picked up the rhythm, he dug out a cheese grater and played it, the sound of a rattle. People cheered and some even joined in. Solano beamed.

When I lived in Newcastle, Salsa always lifted my heart. No matter how crazy football got, my band and friends always reminded me of who I am.”

After a third round, both dancing to and playing salsa music seemed easier. The guests had clearly enjoyed themselves. Solano grabbed his coat. The night still young, and with more Latin bars to choose from, his infectious grin was hard not to reciprocate. The man was in his element.

Photo Credit: Jcswayne – CC BY-SA 3.0