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Sue - in the driving seat for 21 years
Twenty one years - and still going
By contributor, Sue Henderson
The organisation behind the Sunderland International Airshow is nothing short of massive. Deputy Director, Sue Henderson, looks back over her 21 years with the show.
The Sunderland International Airshow celebrates its coming of age with the 21st show in 2009 and I'm proud to have had a hand in organising every one.
The evocative Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
I was involved in getting the first Sunderland Airshow off the ground back in August 1989, when the event was organised as part of the River Wear Festival, which ran through the summer until the seafront illuminations started on August Bank Holiday.
I can remember that police estimated the first airshow attracted an audience of around 250,000.
This huge success led to calls for a repeat airshow in 1990, which once again, ran for only one day.
The airshow has now grown into the biggest free airshow in Europe, yet it seems like only yesterday we were organising the first one.
The RAF Falcons and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight made their debut and they have come back every year since.
After the initial success, we visited other airshows around the country for research and quickly realised that we needed to make ours a two-day event to get the kind of support we needed from the military.
The Stealth never fails to impress
The event was held over two days for the first time in 1991.
This had an instant impact, attracting more exhibitors and even bigger crowds.
There have been some great highs over the years.
It was a coup to secure the Red Arrows for the first year in 1992 and they have been back many times since.
Visits by The Household Cavalry Musical Ride on Cliffe Park were also memorable.
I'll never forget the Stealth Fighter drifting quietly above us, and the might of the B52 Bomber that seemed to fill the whole sky.
Past visits from the city's adopted ship, HMS Ocean, have also been great highlights.
There's real affection for the Vulcan
Award winning event
The event has grown in stature every year.
This has lead to people visiting from all over the world, leading us to win the Excellence in England award for Best Tourism Experience in 2008 – tourism's version of the Oscars.
It was a great honour to accept the award at the ceremony in Liverpool.
What I'm really looking forward to at this year's show is welcoming the Vulcan Bomber for the first time, I saw it many years ago at Biggin Hill and it was fantastic!
This year will also be the first time we've seen the Apache Helicopter and Swift Glider over Sunderland.
That's what's so great about this event, as well as the old favourites - there's always something new to enjoy.
last updated: 22/07/2009 at 17:24