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.