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24 September 2014

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You are in: Wear > Entertainment > Sunderland Airshow > Durham graduate drops in on Sunderland

Louise Buxton mid air

Flt Lt Louise Buxton mid air

Durham graduate drops in on Sunderland

The first woman team leader of the RAF Falcons parachute display team comes back to the north east of England. Flight Lieutenant Louise Buxton is co-ordinating their displays at the Sunderland International Airshow.

Although the Sunderland International Airshow is awash with heart-stopping acrobatics and death-defying excitement, watching a bunch of people willingly jump out of an aeroplane takes some beating.

Flight Lieutenant Louise Buxton

Flt Lt Louise Buxton

This weekend the RAF Falcons parachute display team will be dropping out of the Seaburn sky and making it look pretty while they're at it.

The job of ensuring it all works lies with Flight Lieutenant Louise Buxton, a graduate of Durham University.

The first female team leader of the RAF Falcons, she says: "I can't wait to come back up, it's going to be a fantastic weekend for us.

"I'm slightly biased but I do enjoy it. It should be a fantastic event."

RAF Falcons

Parachutes can reach 180mph in freefall

She also takes part in parachute displays but this weekend she's in charge: "I co-ordinate the drop zone. So basically I talk to the aircraft that we're using, which is a C-130 Hercules this weekend.

"I measure all the weather conditions, provide drop calculations for the guys and I'm responsible for the overall safety of the team when they drop onto the beach."

RAF Falcons parachuting down by Sgnt Mike Maguire

RAF Falcons mid drop over Norfolk

Her main consideration is the weather but she's keeping her fingers crossed for a good forecast. They need high cloud and not too much wind.

Wind direction is most important if you don't want to end up in the sea.

Louise calculates exactly when to release her men and then the team coach, who's been responsible for over 4,500 jumps, leads the stack into the confined areas they're aiming for.

View out from the aircraft

Ready to jump?

Louise says they need to be very specific about where they land: "The minimum the team could drop into is 75 by 75 yards but obviously we're jumping onto a beach.

"We've got to be very cautious of the tide and hopefully there'll be a nice big crowd there and we'll avoid them as well."

Louise stresses they've never missed. They practise in a desert area in America so they have plenty of space to land in initially.

They then narrow down their drop zone progressively until they've got it perfect.

You can see how perfect when they close the show on Saturday 26 July and open it on Sunday 27 July.

RAF Falcons

They get into position about a mile up

Don't forget to come back to BBC Wear for some more pictures and stories from the 20th Sunderland International Airshow.

BBC Radio Newcastle is also broadcasting throughout the weekend.

last updated: 25/07/2008 at 13:07
created: 22/07/2008

You are in: Wear > Entertainment > Sunderland Airshow > Durham graduate drops in on Sunderland

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