Lowestoft Air Festival
Trains, planes and buckets
By Linda Walker
The 13th Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival will see 23 displays each day as the Red Arrows, the Avro Vulcan and more take to the skies on Thursday 23 and Friday 24 July 2009. But organisers are doubling the 'voluntary' donation for the public.
Organisers are hoping that 13 won't be an unlucky number for the festival in terms of finances or weather.
The free-entry event is run by a not-for-profit organisation which relies on donations from visitors to keep the show alive.
This year the recommended contribution has been raised from £1 to £2. While organisers recognise that this 100% increase may not be received well by some visitors, they say it's essential to maintain the level of entertainment.
"It is incredibly difficult and we really thought long and hard about the decision, particularly given the economic conditions that we all find ourselves in," said Paul Bayfield, Festival Managing Director.
The crowds at the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival
"We actually decided that £2 was incredibly good value for what you get for visiting us for the day.
"On top of that we thought that if we explain to people and we say that we are short of sponsorship this year and that we do want to do it again in 2010 and if they support us by putting £2 in the bucket, then it will happen."
There is no main sponsor for this year's festival and overall sponsorship is down by 50% in just 12 months.
"We've managed to achieve having enough money in reserve each year to kick off and start the next year's events. In other words we've managed to plan and budget a year in advance and this year will be the first time that we won't have that cushion [for 2010]."
In 2008 around £80,000 was raised in total by donations being placed into the collection buckets.
Last year around £20,000 of that was was put back into various clubs and organisations who assisted the Air Festival by manning park and ride facilities and acting as bucket collectors.
After charities take their percentage around £60,000 goes to the show and it will need at least this amount again to keep it all flying in 2010.
Brian Hunter is the Air Festival Director responsible for stewarding and he feels that getting the £2 donation is more important than ever, so there will be over 200 collectors working along the seafront.
"We are very conscious now of the expectancy, not only of the people in Lowestoft but the people across the whole of East Anglia, to come each year and see a first class air show," said Brian.
In the air
Despite financial concerns for the future the line up for the 2009 festival is looking very positive with a host of old favourites being joined by overseas aircraft.
"We are very, very fortunate this year that the quantity and the quality of the flying display is unsurpassable," said Paul.
Red Arrows over Lowestoft
The display will include the Red Arrows, a Lancaster and a Spitfire who will be joined by the F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Royal Netherlands Air Force and the KC-135 Stratotanker which has been in service with the United States Air Force since 1957.
The Red Arrows will be performing at 1130 BST on Friday and the Avro Vulcan will make a welcome return to the skies on both days of the festival.
The Vulcan was the highlight of the festival last summer after a 15 year restoration project.
Last year the aircraft helped attract a record-breaking two-day crowd of 440,000 and it's hoped the same is possible this year in order to keep the festival alive.
On the air
As always BBC Suffolk will be at the event with live broadcasts and guest appearances.
Lesley Dolphin at the Air Festival
On Thursday 23 July James Hazell will present his show (0930-1300 BST) and on Friday 24 July Lesley Dolphin will also be live (1300-1600 BST).
Tim Calloway has been the display commentator at Lowestoft Air Festival for 11 years and this year he will be joined by BBC Suffolk presenters Steve Springett and, earning his money, James Hazell.
Parking will always be an issue at such a large event. Most of the roads around the sea front will be closed with access for emergency services only.
There will be a park and ride service available and on the trains there will be increased capacity on the Ipswich-Lowestoft line.
See the official Lowestoft Sea Front Air Festival website for the latest travel information:
And, last but not least, take your litter home or use the bins and Don't be a Tosser!
last updated: 24/07/2009 at 17:30