Newcastle’s popular Festival of Flight to be expanded

Newcastle’s popular Festival of Flight to be expanded
Taken from the Mourne Observer article written by Michael Morrow.
The Festival of Flight in Newcastle is set to expand for 2018 after the councils Enterprise, Regeneration & Tourism committee recommended an increase in the events budget.
The air display element of the hugely popular festival is set to be spread over two days, on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 August next year.
The additional money set to be allocated to the festival is £63000. It would mean an increase in the festivals budget from £77,000 to £140,000.
The Festival is one of a number of local events that have been earmarked for additional funding as the ERT committee has recommended an increase in the council’s events programme budget.
The 2017/18 budget was just over one million pounds, an investment that returned over £11m of economic impact on the Newry, Mourne & Down district.
By adding an additional £272,000 to the budget for the next financial year it is hoped an even greater return on the investment will be seen.
In most cases the events set to benefit from the additional spend are council organised.
(Admin note – The budget quoted is only from the council and does not take into consideration other additional sponsorship. The article expands to talk about other events in the NMD district in 2018 however I have kept it to only the Festival of Flight on this post)

Newcastle 2018 update

***** Newcastle Festival of Flight 2018 *****

A lot have been asking about 2018.

There is a date in place, however it is a provisional date. I do expect this date to be confirmed in early 2018. I am reluctant to post the date for 2 reasons

1) Down Festivals have not confirmed the date and it is their show.

2) It is a provisional date and I don’t want to give out a date and people book hotels etc only for a change to be made.

I will post the date as soon as I know I am able to. This will come either when an official source such as Visit Mourne Mountains or Down Festivals release the date or when RAF displays confirm their appearance.

As for 2018, I have heard some chatter. Some very good things seemingly in place for the RAF centenary next year which it seems Newcastle will be a part of 🙂 The RAF have said in a press release about Newcastle, Northern Ireland being one of 6 ‘Major UK locations’ in 2018 But more about that closer to the event.

The below logo is NOT an official 2018 logo. It was just me messing around in photo-shop and it has been altered from the original 2017 logo.

But I will post news as soon as I know I am able to. 4 years ago I would be posting the date right away, however the last 4 years of running this page and talking to the council have made me appreciate just how much work goes into the planning and just how much can change before going to ‘press’

Stay tuned. 2018 does look like a great year for airshows both in Newcastle and on the North Coast in Portrush.

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Portrush Preview Day 5 – RAF Eurofighter Typhoon

The final profile of our Portrush aircraft profile is the RAF Eurofighter Typhoon. A regular in Portrush And with being one of the most impressive and most talked about displays , and the Typhoon is making its only displays in Northern Ireland this year in Portrush

When you see the Typhoon performing on this year’s display circuit it will be the culmination of months of hard work, detailed preparation and concerted effort by the team behind the display. Whilst it is the pilot who displays the aircraft, he cannot even begin to do his job without the unfaltering commitment and backing of the dedicated group of professionals that make up the Typhoon Display Team.

This year’s team, from 29(R) Squadron, comprises a specialist from every aircraft trade along with support and management teams to assist both the pilot and the trades, all of whom work closely together to bring you the dazzling spectacle that is the Typhoon Display.

Every member of the team has been hand picked from what is already an elite cadre of skilled personnel at RAF Coningsby. They have proven themselves in their day jobs and are now privileged and proud to represent the very best in excellence and dedication that the Royal Air Force can offer.

The teams look forward to the unique challenges that a display season brings and the opportunity to showcase the Royal Air Force Typhoon 2017 display to the general public.


The Eurofighter Typhoon is the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft providing simultaneously deployable Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface capabilities.

It is in service with 6 customers across 20 operational units and has been ordered by a seventh. The aircraft has demonstrated, and continues to demonstrate, high reliability across the globe in all climates. It has been combat proven during operations in Libya.

Development of the aircraft effectively began in 1983 with the Future European Fighter Aircraft programme, a multinational collaborative effort between the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Because of disagreements over design authority and operational requirements, France left the consortium to develop the Dassault Rafale independently instead.

A technology demonstration aircraft, the British Aerospace EAP, first took flight on 6 August 1986; the first prototype of the finalised Eurofighter made its first flight on 27 March 1994. The name of the aircraft, Typhoon, was formally adopted in September 1998; the first production contracts were signed that same year.

The RAF Typhoon Dislay Pilot for 2017 is Flight Lieutenant Ryan Lawton.

Flt Lt Ryan Lawton was born and grew up on the Isle of Wight. His interest in aviation started as a young child, when he would listen, fascinated, to his Grandfather tell stories about his time as a glider pilot during the Second World War. Ryan attended Ryde School with Upper Chine and was a keen member of the Combined Cadet Force. It was here that his ambition to join the RAF as a pilot was formed.

Ryan was awarded a RAF Flying Scholarship whilst studying for his A-levels and then joined the RAF as a direct entrant in 2001, a week after his 18th birthday! Following Initial Officer Training at RAF Cranwell, he completed his Elementary Flying Training on the Firefly and was streamed to fly fast jets. He was awarded his ‘wings’ in 2003 upon completion of Basic Fast Jet Training on the Tucano at RAF Linton on Ouse. Following this, he completed his Advanced Flying Training on the Hawk at RAF Valley before being selected to complete his Tactical Weapons training on 419 Sqn in Canada, flying the Hawk 115.

On completion of flying training, Ryan was role-disposed to the Tornado GR4 in 2006 and completed the Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Lossiemouth before being posted to II(AC) Sqn at RAF Marham in 2007. During this front-line tour, he completed numerous overseas exercises and deployed on operations to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ryan left the Tornado GR4 in 2010 to take up a position in the Typhoon simulator at RAF Coningsby. In 2011, he was selected to take part in a trial to complete the Typhoon conversion course, purely in the simulator! The trial was a success and Ryan was posted to XI(F) Sqn in 2012. During this tour, he took part in the first RAF Typhoon deployment to Exercise RED FLAG in Las Vegas and conducted Quick Reaction Alert duties in the UK and Falkland Islands.

In 2014, Ryan joined 29(R)Sqn, where his current role is to teach student pilots to operate the Typhoon. In addition to his instructional duties, Ryan contributes to RAF Coningsby’ s primary task of defending UK sovereign airspace. (Info from RAF Website, photo our own)




We really hope you have enjoyed our aircraft profiles over the last few days. And for those heading to Portrush this weekend, have a great time!

Portrush Preview Day 4 – Mig 15 & Red Arrows

Today is the penultimate day of our Airwaves Portrush 2017 preview and focus now moves to the aircraft most people want to see, the fast and loud jets that will be roaring around the East strand of Portrush in just 2 days time. Today will feature a Soviet Cold War era jet and the worlds most famous aerobatic display team.

First up is the Mig 15 from the Norweigen Air Force Historic Squadron.

The Norweigen Air Force Historic Squadron preserve, maintain and operate these historic aircraft and work hard to make them fly for many years to come. The Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron has established it’s own Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) authorized maintenance organization maintaining the jets.

They have displayed at all major airshows in Norway. In they are building quite a following having attended many shows in recent years. They displayed the Vampire pair last September in Portrush after the Mig 15 had technical issues.

Their experienced technicians are all voluntary, and help with a vast knowledge and expertise. Some are retired Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) technicians with more than 40 years of experience on fighters including, Spitfires, Vampires, T-33, F-84, RF-84, F-86, F-104, F-5, RF-5 and F-16.

This aircraft is a Polish-built SB Lim-2 (MiG-15UTI), produced by WSK-Mielec in 1952. The aircraft is operated by the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron as a representative of the Cold War ‘enemy’.

Following its Polish Air Force service ending in 1990, the aircraft was exported to the USA, and based at Quillayute Airport just outside Forks, Washington. It was again returned to Europe in the summer of 2014. Experienced ex. Polish Air Force MiG-15 engineers carry out the maintenance of the aircraft.

Given the shared border between north-eastern Norway and Russia, and the many encounters between Royal Norwegian Air Force and Soviet aircraft during the Cold War, the Polish MiG is an appropriate addition to the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron.

The aircraft is painted and marked as “RED 18” to represent Russian-Soviet pilot and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s MiG-15. He was the first human to journey into outer space in 1961. Before his cosmonaut training Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was stationed close to the Norwegian boarder and only 40 km from the Norwegian city of Kirkenes as a fighter pilot flying the MiG-15.

The prototype MiG-15 first flew 30. December 1947 and was series produced in the USSR between 1949 and 1959 in 13,131 examples. Foreign license production in Poland, Czechoslovakia and China reached about 6,000 examples. Total production of MiG-15 about 18,000 examples built. (Photo from Norwegian Air force Historical Squadron)




Our next display is one of, if not the most famous aerobatic display team, the RAF Red Arrows who have been at every Portrush show with the exception of 2011 after an accident in England saw the Red Arrows sadly lose one of its pilots which paused Red Arrows displays.

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, is one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams. Representing the speed, agility and precision of the RAF, the team is the public face of the service.

They assist in recruiting to the Armed Forces, act as ambassadors for the United Kingdom and promote the best of British. Flying distinctive Hawk jets, the team is made up of pilots, engineers and essential support staff with front-line, operational experience.

Initially, they were equipped with seven Folland Gnat trainers inherited from the RAF Yellowjacks display team.

This aircraft was chosen because it was less expensive to operate than front-line fighters. In their first season, they flew at 65 shows across Europe. In 1966, the team was increased to nine members, enabling them to develop their Diamond Nine formation.

In late 1979, they switched to the BAE Hawk trainer. The Red Arrows have performed over 4,600 displays in 56 countries worldwide

The engineering team that supports the Red Arrows is known as “The Blues” and consists of 85 members who cover all of the various trades in the RAF.

Each season nine members of the Blues are selected to be members of the ‘Circus’. Each member of the Circus works with the same pilot for the duration of the season and is responsible for servicing their aircraft and preparing their flying kit prior to each display. The Circus also fly in the back seat of the jets during transit flights.


The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft. It was first flown at Dunsfold, Surrey, in 1974 as the Hawker Siddeley Hawk, and subsequently produced by its successor companies, British Aerospace and BAE Systems, respectively. It has been used in a training capacity and as a low-cost combat aircraft.

The Hawks used by the Red Arrows are modified with an uprated engine and a modification to enable smoke to be generated, diesel is mixed with a coloured dye and ejected into the jet exhaust to produce either red, white or blue smoke.

The Hawk T1 version is currently used at RAF Valley for fast-jet pilot advanced training, however this role will increasingly migrate to IV(R) Sqn and the Hawk T2 in the future. The Hawk T1 is also operated by the RAF Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, and 100 Sqn. While the Hawk T1 is used primarily in the advanced flying-training role, it is equipped to an operational standard and is capable of undertaking a war role.

However the Red Arrows are based at RAF Scampton and not RAF Valley like the rest of the Hawk aircraft.

Also a special mention to Red 10 Mike Ling who is sadly in his final year in the Red 10 position, and therefore this will be his last trip to Portrush this weekend. He has been great as the voice of the Red Arrows over the years. (Photo our own)



Tomorrow finishes our Portrush preview with the very loud Eurofighter Typhoon display from the RAF.

Portrush 2017 Preview Day 3 – BBMF Spitfire & Catalina

Welcome to day 3 of our Airwaves Portrush 2017 preview which will today cover an iconic WWII aircraft and a former Canadian Air Force flying boat.

This weekend at Portrush will see the return of a crowd favourite, the Battle of Britain Memorail Flight (BBMF) who will be sending their Griffon powered Spitfire to Portrush this weekend.

The BBMF had origionally scheduled the Lancaster, Spitfire & Hurricane trio to come to Portrush however an issue with one of their Merlin powered aircraft has grounded the Merlin powered fleet until the issue has been resolved.

The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (RAFBBMF) is part of the Royal Air Force No 1 Group and operates from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire which has been their home since moving from Coltishall in 1976.

This year sees the BBMF celebrate their 60th annviersery, having formed in 1957.

The aircraft are regularly seen at events commemorating World War II, upon British State occasions, notably the Trooping the Colour celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday and at air displays throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. We are proud to have HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge as our Patron.

RAF BBMF commemorate the past of the RAF’s Air Combat Power – Lest We Forget.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre is located at RAF Coningsby in Coningsby, Lincolnshire. A partnership between the Royal Air Force and Lincolnshire County Council, the centre allows visitors an up-close guided tour of the aircraft when not in use, as well as exhibits about the aircraft and other temporary exhibits.

The Spitfire was produced in greater numbers than any other British combat aircraft before or since the War, 20,341 Spitfires were built in 22 different variants (excluding the navalised Seafire) and the aircraft remained in production for 12 years. The Spitfire played a major part in achieving ultimate victory in World War Two and truly deserves its place as probably the most successful fighter design ever, and certainly as the most famous and charismatic of all time. The BBMF currently have 6 Spitfire aircraft (Photos our own)




Making a welcome return to Portrush (Especially for this admin who has not seen her in over 20 years) is the PBY Catalina flying boat.

PBY Catalina G-PBYA ‘Miss Pick-up’ run by the Plane Sailing Air Displays Limited who are based out of Duxford, England.

The Consolidated PBY Catalina is an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft.

The Catalina was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.

During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue missions.

G-PBYA – The aircraft that will fly in Portrush was originally ordered for the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Canso. An amphibian, equivalent to the US Navy PBY-5A. It was built by Canadian Vickers at Cartierville, Quebec and was allocated their constructors number CV-283 before adopting the RCAF serial 11005. It was taken on charge by the air force on 27 October 1943 and initially saw service with 9 Squadron.

After the war she entered a period of storage at Moose Jaw before being converted to a freighter in 1948. Since then she has changed hands quite a few times working as a freighter and even as a water bomber in the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada.

In 2004 she was bought by ‘Plane Sailing’ and brought to Duxford and in November of 2004 her registry was changed from C-FNJF to G-PBYA.

The Catalina is operated by Plane Sailing Air Displays Limited on behalf of Catalina Aircraft Limited which is made up of a number of shareholders. The enterprise is supported by its own ‘fan club’ – The Catalina Society. The Catalina displayed in Portrush last year. (Photo and information from Catalina Society Website )



Check back tomorrow when we will continue our preview when we move onto the fast jets that will be on display.


Airwaves Portrush Preview day 2

Our Airwaves Portrush 2017 preview continues today with some very exciting Pitts Special Displays as well as some fantastic helicopter displays.


First up on day 2 is the Huey and Loach display who have become a very regular fixture in Portrush and who will also perform the Poppy drop to close the show on Sunday.

The helicopters are most famous for their service in the Vietnam war and both of these helicopters that will be on display actually saw service in Vietnam! They will also be joining the Wildcat on Static when not displaying!

In 2000 The Huey was sent to Arizona for storage until 2003 when it was brought out and underwent a full restoration. It is now the only Huey flying in Europe that served in Vietnam.

The aircraft has been restored back to Vietnam combat livery as it would have appeared with the 129 Assault Helicopter Company. We are working to get a more complete history of the aircraft.

Helicopter OH-6A 69-16011 was manufactured in 1969 and was number 470 off the production line of the Hughes Tool Company. The aircraft was shipped direct to Vietnam where it served in the 20th Transport Company.

The aircraft technical records show that at 250 hours from new on the 17th August 1970 whilst serving in this Unit, the helicopter was on a recon mission and came under fire at a flight level of 100 feet and 80 knots in South Vietnam and took 11 hits from small arms and automatic weapons. The majority of these hits were on the underside of the aircraft causing damage to the fuel system and some aircraft components. Luckily the armour plating proved effective protecting the flight crew and out of the three crew on board, only one was wounded in action.

The work started on the OH-6 in the Summer of 2008 returning the aircraft to its original Vietnam livery. It now flies with the Huey after a full restoration.





Next up is the fantastic Pitts Special Display Team known as Wildcat Aerobatics. The team made their debut in Portrush last September and were a very popular display.

Formed in 2010, Wildcat Aerobatics was created with the aim of promoting the amazing world of aerial sport flying and the more extreme elements of the leisure aviation industry.

It does this primarily through the delivery of a crowd-thrilling formation aerobatic display that entertains hundreds of thousands of spectators every year at shows across the length and breadth of the country ranging from large-scale public events to much smaller private celebrations.

The team use the Pitts S2 aircraft. The S2 has been used by teams in the US, Europe, Africa and the Far East and is a proven air display favourite. The biplane has a special appeal to airshow crowds and has been displaying in various guises since it’s unveiling at Homestead, Florida in 1946.

In addition, as a minor part of the overall activity of the team, Wildcat Aerobatics also provides introductory flights to people eager to experience the thrills of flying formation aerobatics. Through these exclusive activities, we aim to promote the team, its sponsors and attract new pilots to this most demanding and exciting of extreme sports.

The Wildcat Aerobatics team are making their second trip to Northern Ireland this weekend, having displayed in Newcastle a few weeks ago.




Next up is the Irish Coast Guard S92 helicopter, The Sikorsky S-92 is a four-bladed twin-engine medium-lift helicopter built by Sikorsky Aircraft for the civil and military helicopter market. The S-92 was developed from the Sikorsky S-70 helicopter and has similar parts such as flight control and rotor systems.

The Irish Coast Guard had previously used the S61 Helicopter until replacing them with the S92. The first S92 was delivered to them in January 2012 and given the registration EI-ICG with the callsign ‘Rescue 115’

The S92 Search and Rescue Demo is very popular at seaside airshows througout Ireland, North and South and is a regular attendee. This year the S92 will be displaying on one day only, it is not known which day yet.

Sadly one of the S92 aircraft from the Irish Coast Guard was lost with all crew earlier this year.




Closing todays preview we have one of the most exciting displays on the airshow circut, Rich Goodwin and his very colourful Pitts Special aircraft that has pople talking about his display long after the show is over.

G-EWIZ has been specially modified to provide the ultimate Biplane for Air Show Entertainment. The modification programme has given this Biplane enhanced capabilities producing a unique style of Aerobatics with a lot of smoke!

The Pitts Special may surprise you with her ability as looks are very much deceiving in this case, she is no ordinary prop aircraft.

As for the Pilot, flying has always been in his blood. His father flew the Hawker Hunter and Lightening jets for the RAF and Richard himself is a former Tornado pilot with the RAF after doing his training in the Hawk T1 (The same aircraft the RAF Red Arrows use) He is also a former pilot of Boeing aircraft.


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Check back tomorrow when we continue our Airwaves Portrush preview.