Kieran Lear reports on Southport's annual airshow, held later than usual on 22/23 September. Photography by the author and Nigel Watson
for this summer, the morning was beautiful with blue skies, warm sunshine
and the odd cloud, but typically as Saturday progressed and Southport's
flying display approached, the clouds drifted in.
So, on with the 'proper' flying display, which started at about half one each day (except the Red Arrows on Sunday, who opened the show at noon due to commitments at a show in France the same day) with the RAF's Parachute Display Team, the RAF Falcons, who did something very unusual, jumping from the display Chinook due to their usual Hercules being on operational commitments. The Falcons displayed perfectly, though their jump was somewhat limited because of the grey cloudbase. Next on the list was supposed to be the Royal Navy Merlin but unfortunately it cancelled, but in its place was something rather unique, Spitfire T9 PT462/G-CTIX flown by Anthony Hodgson, who performed a fabulous routine demonstrating the Spitfire's capabilities wonderfully.
The RAF then took centre-stage, demonstrating its sophisticated training fleet with Tutor, Tucano and Hawk, all displaying excellently. The Blades once again wowed the audience, this time starting their display from behind the crowd and going over-the-top - something the CAA has recently approved with the Blades. A solo Royal Navy Lynx of the Black Cats followed (its mate went 'tech' at nearby Woodvale), with a great display from the Yakovlevs and the BBMF (Spitfire PM631 and Hurricane LF363) quickly after.
Now came the centre-piece of Southport 2007 - unfortunately, the traditional military scenario had to be scrapped this year, but there were still huge explosions ready for the show as part of a 'Ground Attack through Time' set-piece, which was to include displays from the Scandinavian Historic Flight's Mustang, two Me108s, a Vampire, Invader, two Spitfires, a Chinook and Typhoon. Sadly, nearly half of the expected aircraft failed to appear (at least on the Saturday anyway) - the Invader had to abort its take-off after a nose wheel problem, the Vampire couldn't make it and there was no sign of the two Spitfires. At least we had great displays from the Mustang and Me108s, always at the centre of the display, plus the loud rasp of the Merlin in 'Old Crow' made the Mustang display a must-see. The Chinook and Typhoon were their usual brilliant selves, with plenty of thumping and noise. The EJ200 engines of the Typhoon lit up the dark sky beautifully.
After the Typhoon came the climax of the show, none other than the Red Arrows. The sky was clearing now, permitting the Reds to fly a safe full/rolling show much to the delight of the Southport crowd. They showed their approval of the Reds by pipping their car horns at the request of Red 10, Sqn Ldr Andy Robbins. The limited cloudbase on Sunday restricted the Reds to a flat show - one has to feel sorry for the team as the 2007 season has been miserable for them, with plenty of flat shows and few full shows when with luck, it should be the other way round. They're still one of the best display teams in the world - maybe you might get the weather next year guys!
So, another wonderful Southport, despite the fact there was no military scenario and a string of cancellations but still, the Southport team made it another excellent show, helped fantastically by the show commentator, Tim Callaway, who kindly allowed me onto the pier, getting me the best place for photography. Thank you very much, Tim!