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People Features

You are in: Wear > People > People Features > Who makes it happen?

Red Arrows - photo by Keung Wing Sang

The Red Arrows will fly twice

Who makes it happen?

BBC Newcastle has been behind the scenes with the people of the airshow. What goes in to organising Europe's biggest free airshow and what is it like flying over Roker beach?

Sue Henderson, Deputy Director, has been at the helm for 21 years organising what has become the biggest free airshow in Europe.

Sue told BBC Newcastle: "The highlight for me is always the Red Arrows, they're everyone's favourite and this year they're going to be flying at 12 noon [on Saturday and Sunday] and that's a change from our normal schedule.

"Another highlight will be the Vulcan bomber, we've not had that before, it's the only one flying and that's flying at 4pm on Saturday only."

Red Arrows at Sunderland Airshow. Wendy Pattison

Painting the sky red (and blue)

Listen to the full interview with Sue here:

Eight feet apart

One of the pilots of the Blades, Andy Evans, explains what it's like to take to the skies of Roker: "Personally, It's my favourite venue to come to because the crowd size is so enormous.

"I did three years flying with the Red Arrows ... and it was only then when I came on to the ground and to see the number of people there it was absolutely staggering, so it's a fantastic place to come and display at."

Although each stunt is over in a few seconds, there has to be plenty of planning involved for when the planes fly so close together.

Andy explains: "A formation stall turn is where all four aircraft pull up into the vertical and just before we run out of air space we turn to the left and come back down again and fly towards the crowd.

Extra 300 aerobatic planes

Planned to perfection

"For the close formations, the planes are about eight feet [apart] which is a standard distance and for the dynamic moves such as crossing it's probably about 50 feet."

Listen to the full interview with Andy here:

Twenty-one years

Chris Davies, the head of operations at Newcastle Airport said: "We've been privileged to be involved with the airshow over the 21 years its been in existence, so we've got experience but it's a hectic time for us."

"We've got the Red Arrows and about 280 commercial flights in and out of the airport over the weekend and about 100 additional airshow movements.

"The F-16 and the Eurofighter Typhoon will leave the airshow and land at the airport within 60 seconds, so that's how slick it is."

Listen to the full interview with Chris here:


A pilot from Gateshead will have the distinction of being the first person to fly an Apache helicopter at the event and is looking forward to coming back to the North East of England.

Captain Tony Thompson said: "The Blue Eagles are the helicopter display team of the Army Air Core and there's a lot of people that don't realise the Army have more helicopters than the air force. So we let people see what it is like to be an aviator in the army.

Aerobatic plane upside down

This picture is the right way up!

"What a great way to come home, I'm really looking forward to displaying the Apache right over where I used to fish as a child."

Listen to the full interview with Tony here:

Jumping out of a plane

If you have never jumped out of a plane before and want some advice, Sergeant Martin Peace from the RAF Falcons Parachute Display team might be able to help you out. He has jumped almost 400 times.

Martin remembers his first jump: "I was a little bit nervous I'll have to be honest. You do get the nerves. It does get a lot easier and it is thoroughly enjoyable all the way through.

"I've done nearly 400 jumps but some of the guys I work with on the RAF Falcons have done over 1,000. And the team coach flight Sergeant Toby Goodchild has done nearly 5,000 jumps.

Louise Buxton mid air

Flt Lt Louise Buxton mid air

"[On the day] we'll go through every demonstration that we'll do... So when it comes down to completing the demo where ever it may be, we're on top form."

Flt Lt Louise Buxton is the team leader of the RAF Falcons parachute display team. Find out more about her and listen to the interview with Sergeant Martin Peace by clicking the links here

Timing is everything

Ian Sheeley is the flying display director at the airshow and is responsible for making sure all of the planes are in the right place at the right time.

Ian explains: "We started planning the flying display last September and we're working with really professional pilots who understand the need to be accurate on their timings.

"Once the display area is clear, we can call them in on the radio, they do their display and then recover back into Newcastle Airport."

Listen to the full interview with Ian Sheeley here:

last updated: 24/07/2009 at 16:11
created: 22/07/2009

You are in: Wear > People > People Features > Who makes it happen?

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