Northern Ireland

Newcastle air show: Vulcan bomber takes off at Festival of Flight

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Media captionThousands of spectators were treated to aerial displays, including a fly past by the world's last flying Vulcan bomber

The last flying Vulcan bomber was the star attraction at one of Northern Ireland's largest air shows.

Thousands of people turned up watch the air show on Saturday, the highlight of this year's Festival of Flight in Newcastle, County Down.

The crowds were also treated to Red Arrows display over Dundrum Bay.

The Vulcan has made a return to the skies after a £400,000 wing modification, funded by supporters, including many from Northern Ireland.

It has given the iconic jet, with its distinctive Delta wing, a further two years of flying.

Image caption The Vulcan bomber will fly until at least 2015

Richard Clarke from the Vulcan to the Sky Trust said: "I can remember standing here last year at the show saying 'well, this might be the last appearance at Newcastle, which would be a travesty'.

"But luckily, by some really good engineering work, we managed to get the modification done with the support of the public, including plenty of people from Northern Ireland who have donated to this aircraft.

Image caption The air show attracted a huge crowd of people to Newcastle, County Down

The modified Vulcan took off for the first time in early June following the vital work and is now well into a summer display season that is taking her across the United Kingdom.

'Positively eccentric'

Dr Robert Pleming, chief executive of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST), said: "Extending her flying life required a remarkable operation that combined the very latest 3D scanning and analytical techniques with a range of traditional craft skills that I have to say are quite unique and amazing.

"It was remarkably British, at times looking positively eccentric, yet always combining innovation and engineering excellence.

"An error of just a few thousandths of an inch could have grounded her forever."

Dr Pleming said as a spectator activity, UK air shows were "second only to football" in terms of attendance numbers.

He added that the appearance by the Vulcan typically increased air show attendance by 20 to 40%.

Image copyright BBC (Louise Cullen)
Image caption The Irish Air Corps completed a fly past in Newcastle on Saturday, using a Casa aircraft

This year's show in Newcastle also includes a Typhoon fighter, a Lancaster bomber, two-seat turboprop basic trainer aircraft, the Tucano and the Supermarine Seafire, a version of the Spitfire especially amended to land and take off from aircraft carriers.

The Irish Air Corps also completed a fly past over the town, using a Casa aircraft.

Down District Council helped to organise the event and Priscula McAlinden said Saturday's sunny weather made the show even more attractive to visitors.

"We bring tourists from everywhere. There's some who come over from England and further afield, so last year we had 125,000 people," she said.

"We have a spectacular day here today. The sun is shining and we're just really delighted."

The festival continued on Sunday with a country music afternoon in Donard Park.

Image caption Plane enthusiasts have been flocking to the seaside town

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