Iconic birds of steel dominate resort's skyline
THE skies of Cleethorpes zoomed into life above thousands of spectators at the Festival Of Flight.
Cleethorpes Promenade was awash with aviation enthusiasts, families and former veterans eager to watch iconic aircrafts take flight across the skyline.
From the heroic Hawker Hurricane to the stunning Red Arrows, the festival transformed the resort into a bustling sea of visitors paying homage to Lincolnshire's large role in aviation history.
The two-day festival kicked off on Saturday with the eye-catching and patriotic RAF Tucano, which zoomed out of the clouds and loop-the-looped over the beach and back again.
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Managing director of the festival, Adam Johnson, was thrilled with the weekend, despite a few re-scheduling issues due to the windy weather, and has pledged to make it an annual event for Cleethorpes.
He said: "This is a first for us this year and is a taster of things to come. With all the right things in place, we can go from strength to strength.
"The festival celebrates Lincolnshire's heritage in aviation history and people are definitely embracing it.
"All the hard work has been worth it; the number of spectators speak for themselves and we cannot thank people enough for showing their support. If they have enjoyed it this year, there will be something even bigger next year."
Also taking to the skies was the unsung hero of the Battle Of Britain, the Hawker Hurricane, which flew stoically solo after the Me109 Messerschmitt Bouchon pulled out of the scheduled dogfight due to an oil leak.
It appeared to be the favourite among spectators, and especially the aviation experts.
The aircraft belongs to the Historic Aircraft Collection, members of which were on hand to direct pilots.
Flying display director Janice Black described Cleethorpes as the "perfect theatre" for an air show.
"We started planning this two years ago and while it might look effortless, a lot of hard work has gone into it," she said.
"Seeing everyone enjoying themselves is fantastic, and that was the main point for us – to give people a good show and share history."
Spectators also viewed the original Alvis TD21 and TD29 cars, which were owned by Battle of Britain fighter pilot Douglas Bader, who lost both legs in a plane crash before the Second World War.
Manning them was The Pink Berets, which used the festival as the perfect platform to showcase the charity which supports troops serving overseas.
Events manager Carl Taylor said: "It is great to be involved knowing what we do is helping present-day soldiers, but seeing these old planes makes us remember the past, too."
Tyler Cowling, 13, New Waltham, enjoyed the day out with his family.
He said: "It is exciting to see these old war planes. We have had a great time."
On Sunday, the bumper crowd enjoyed a second flight by the Hawker Hurricane, followed by a breathtaking 20-minute display by the Red Arrows.
The festival closed with the Red Devils parachute team descending onto Cleethorpes beach.
Deputy director of the festival, Bob Callison, said: "We are absolutely delighted. This event has been three years in the making and now it has come to fruition. We are a little bit disappointed that we had to cancel some of the events but on the whole we have been blessed with some very good weather and a very large crowd. This is putting Cleethorpes on the map. It has been a wonderful day."
Major Justin Tancrel, from the Parachute Regiment, who saluted the Red Devils display team upon their landing, said: "It was an absolutely fantastic occasion. To get to see all these aircraft together in one location is an extremely rare opportunity.
"The Hurricane was so pivotal in the Battle Of Britain, and to have the Red Arrows flying here is a real testament to the size of this event."
Brian Dingley, chairman of the Grimsby and Cleethorpes branch of the Parachute Regimental Association, said: "We are extremely proud to be part of this fantastic event. It has given us the opportunity to profile the regiment with the Red Devils team and we look forward to participating in other functions throughout the year."
Volunteer marshal and Cleethorpes Town Team member Teresa Bassett said: "I was working for most of the weekend but I did get a couple of hours to watch some of the planes. The Red Arrows were fantastic and it is such a beautiful view over the river.
"We are very proud to see Cleethorpes looking like this. I have never seen it this busy. I just hope this is the first event of many."
Mr Johnson thanked everyone who has volunteered and sponsored the event, paying special mention to the Grimsby and Cleethorpes Parachute Regimental Association chairman Mr Dingley and former member of the Red Devils Parachute Display Team Stuart Cook. He also praised the Grimsby Telegraph and Grimsby and Scunthorpe Media Group for its support.