Bournemouth Air Festival 2013

What started as manning the exclusion zone for the annual Red Arrows display on one day in 2007 has, over the last 6 years, turned into a full blown International Air Display spread over 4 days with 3 evenings of dusk flying and generally reckoned to be one of the top aviation events in the world. With a local boat responsible for laying and maintaining the buoys, the MVS with manpower from the Poole, Bournemouth & Christchurch and Portsmouth Units, keep the pleasure vessels out of the exclusion zone; without which the Air Display could not proceed.


This year the show was the most successful ever, with an estimated 1.3 million people attending over the 4 days, a maximum of 446,000 on the Saturday and on the same day over 900 boats watching from the sea. The crowds were thrilled with a very full flying programme although sadly the Vulcan and Sea-Vixen had to pull out with mechanical problems.

We manned our 2 launches, Tom Sherrin and Avocet plus the RIBTrevora, together with 2 Jet-Skis and had help from Top Hat (from Power Boat Training UK) on the weekend days. On shore the organisers give us a site for a recruitment stand which is covered each day by 2 or 3 members. Over 30 names were collected of interested potential members from all over the country.


Each day the crews had to check their vessels, refuel as required and move out to the Exclusion Zone to be on station at least one hour before the flying commenced. To save fuel the RIB was usually towed out. On most days there is also a Beach Assault by the Royal Marines and at least two parachute displays. This year we were really fortunate with the weather and the sea condition for watching vessels was ideal. Although most of the vessel control is carried out by SKUA (the buoy laying boat), we have a member on duty in Bronze Control, on top of the East Cliff, liaising with the Flying Staff and HM Coastguard. On 3 occasions we were tasked to go to the assistance of pleasure vessels and 2 were towed back to Poole.


A big Thank You was communicated to all from the Director of Bournemouth Tourism, the Flying Director, HM Coastguard and all the Events Team at Bournemouth Borough Council who organised the event. The whole 4 day deployment gives us an opportunity to put into practice our boat handling and navigation skills, use of V.H.F. Radio and general organisational skills.

Peter Lockwood, Poole Unit