5:00am Saturday 26th May 2012
By Hannah Marsh
THE skies above Southend are set to rumble with the thunderous sound of aeronautical titans in dazzling displays as the airshow arrives this weekend.
Today (May 26) and tomorrow will see jaw-dropping feats from daring wing walkers and display pilots, as well as impressive giants of the sky including the mighty Typhoon and Hawk as well as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, featuring the Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane.
There’s plenty to entertain on the ground too, with a new layout and lots of new businesses, organisations and events involved for the 27th year.
“The changes are mainly on the ground,” explains Lisa Ferne, tourism and events manager for Southend Council.
“We’ve reconfigured what’s going on to try to showcase a bit more of what Southend has to offer. We’ve got some Essex and Southend companies who have a presence on the seafront, and we’ve tried to reconfigure it for a better flow of people.”
The popular RAF, Army and Royal Navy zones have been expanded to include activities for all the family. Lisa says: “In the flight zone, we have flight-related companies like the Battle of Britain Museum display, which will include a Spitfire.
“With the Royal Navy, we’ve created the water zone and we’ve got water walkers – which are like big see-through blow up balls that you can sit in and roll around on the water like a big hamster wheel.
“We’ve got a speed zone with some Italian cars and motorcycles on display, and a visit Essex area with Essex companies.”
Charity Havens Hospices is also staging an event – an attempt to get as many people as possible doing the Superman dance simultaneously.
The fun takes place at 1pm on Saturday in the main arena.
It’s the culmination of a year’s work for Lisa and her team – and 2013’s show is already being planned. “We’ll start planning for next year this year on site,” she explains. “We’ll have a walk through and have a look about to see how things are laid out and whether we’re happy with it.
“It’s our first major event of the season, and something we use to kick start the season – we were the first seaside town to stge an airshow, so we’re kind of the leaders on the circuit.
“But it doesn’t come without it’s challenges.”
Lisa has a real passion for the airshow, after experiencing it behind the scenes for the first time while on a training scheme with the council. Now heading up the event she still has her personal favourites when it comes to watching the skies.
She says: “I’m really looking forward to the Typhoon. I love the noise, and the fact it can go straight up like a rocket – the engineering behind the aircraft is phenomenal. The wing walkers are back and they’re absolutely fantastic – every year they ask me when I’m going to go up, but I’m always a little busy over airshow weekend.”
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