Dakota over Newcastle!


The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) will be returning to Newcastle in 2019 with an aircraft we have not seen since the 2013 Festival of Flight, the Douglas DC3 Dakota.

It is only fitting we have the Dakota grace our skies this June as it is the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, of which the Dakota’s played a massive part.

The Douglas C-47 Dakota is without doubt one of the most successful aircraft designs in history. It became one of the world’s most famous military transport aircraft and saw widespread use by the Allies during World War Two and subsequently by Air Forces and civilian operators worldwide.

The BBMF Dakota, ZA947 is now painted to represent Dakota FZ692 of No 233 Squadron, around the D-Day period in 1944. This aircraft, which was named ‘Kwicherbichen’ by her crews, was involved in Para-dropping operations on the eve of D-Day and subsequently in re-supply and casualty evacuation missions into and out of forward airfields in the combat areas.

It will be great to have the Dakota back in the skies of Newcastle on June 22nd 2019.

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Red Arrows to roar into Newcastle!

It’s the news you have been waiting for. After much speculation of ‘Will they/Won’t they?’ the RAF Red Arrows have confirmed they will be displaying in Newcastle on June 22nd!

This is the only chance to see the Red Arrows display on the island of Ireland this year, as they will be undertaking a 9 week United States & Canada tour in August, September & October named ‘Western Hawk 19’ and will have their final UK display in July at RAF Fairford.

The Red Arrows fly 9 T1 Hawk Aircraft fitted with smoke pods that produce Red, White & Blue smoke that will fill the skies of Dundrum Bay once again. The Hawk is the RAF Jet trainer aircraft that is used to transition pilots to fast jets and have been used by the Red Arrows since the 1980 airshow season after moving from the Folland Gnat, 2 of which appeared in Newcastle during the 2014 Festival of Flight.

The Red Arrows last displayed in Newcastle in 2017. They were due to display last summer however horrible weather forced the cancellation of the Festival of Flight 2018 meaning we only got to see them perform a flypast earlier that day on their way to Aldergove.

It will be great to hear the roar of 9 Red T1 Hawks over the skies of Newcastle once again as they dazzle us with their daredevil aerobatics and fantastic formations that make up their brilliant display with their very colourful smoke!


Tucano return to Newcastle

Tucano to return home!

This year will see a home-coming from a Northern Ireland built aircraft! The Shorts Tucano will be making its fist display in Newcastle since 2014 on June 22nd!

Built just up the road in Shorts Belfast, it has been used as a trainer by the RAF since 1989 and was adapted from the Ebraer Tucano which was designed and built in Brazil.

The Tucano, as well as the display team is in service with 72 squadron at RAF Linton-on-Ouse and provides training for pilots before moving on to the RAF Hawk T2.

The Tucano replaced the RAF Jet Provost as the RAF Trainer aircraft (You may remember A Provost Display in 2014 from Newcastle Jet Provost) And this year sadly marks its last ever year in service, so this may be your last ever chance to see a Belfast built aircraft display!

I really look forward to seeing the Tucano Display in Newcastle in 2019! The display in 2014 was very enjoyable and it is great they get one last display season to go out on!

This is just the first of many announcements in the next few months as we get closer to June 22nd and the Newcastle Festival of Flight!


Newcastle Festival of Flight date confirmed


The Newcastle Festival of Flight returns on the earlier date of June 22nd 2019.

While no details of what will be involved in the flying display have yet been announced, the change in date is expected to be due to the Red Arrows ‘Western Hawk 19’ tour of North America in August & September.

Lets hope for better weather in 2019! The 2018 Festival of Flight was a total washout with heavy rain and low viability causing the show to be cancelled just as the RAF Typhoon roared in to open the show!

The date was confirmed at Mondays Enterprise, Regeneration & Tourism meeting and will have an ‘enhanced’ budget of £120,000 similar to what last years show would have been.

I look forward to seeing what displays are confirmed in the coming months!

Newcastle Festival of Flight 2019 date revealed!

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The Newcastle Festival of Flight is once again cleared for take off, this time with an earlier proposed date… Saturday 22nd June.

It is unknown as to why the date has changed however it is widely thought that this is due to the RAF Red Arrows going on a 9 week tour of the US and Canada in August & September 2019 which would have seen them be unable to display in Newcastle in the regular August date.

The Airshow is also looking for a new Flight Director for 2019 with the possibility of extending the contract for the 2020 and 2021 Newcastle Festival of Flight airshows. A tender had been put out recently naming 22nd June as the date of the airshow. However, it is too early to confirm any aircraft at this point in time.

According to NMD Council minutes from meetings, despite the cancellation of the 2018 airshow due to horrendous weather conditions, the STEM Village was a huge success and it is possible they may expand on this for 2019!

So, Chock’s away! The Newcastle Festival of Flight returns on June 22nd 2019!

Portrush Aircraft profile day 4 – RAF Falcons, Swiss Classic Formation & Sea Fury T20

Welcome to Day 4 of our Portrush Aircraft profile which covers the debut of Swiss Classic Flight, an RAF Parachute display team and a fantastic Royal Navy historical aircraft!

First up is the RAF Falcons, the RAF Paracchute display team who will display on the Sunday only.

The RAF Falcons were last in Northern Ireland right here in Newcastle in 2014 and jumped from a Cessna Sky Caravan.

The Falcons are the official parachute team of the RAF and are based at based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team is the only centrally funded, professional, military parachute display team in the UK. Their exciting free fall display, which includes advanced manoeuvres, falling at speeds up to 120mph, and their famous unique non-contact canopy stack manages to captivate all spectators.

While in their display the Falcons will use smoke to light up the skies!



Next up is something new, an exciting debut for the crowds as the Swiss Classic Formation will be bringing their DC3 Dakota and 3 Beech 18 aircraft.

The Dakota

The Dakota that will be in Portrush was built in 1943. The DC3 Dakota revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting effect on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever produced withseveral examples still flying today.

Civil DC-3 production ended in 1942 at 607 aircraft. Military versions, including the C-47 Skytrain (designated the Dakota in British Royal Air Force (RAF) service), and Russian- and Japanese-built versions, brought total production to over 16,000. Following the war, the airliner market was flooded with surplus C-47s and other ex-military transport aircraft, and Douglas’ attempts to produce an upgraded DC-3 failed due to cost.

Post-war, the DC-3 was made obsolete on main routes by more advanced types such as the Douglas DC-6 and Lockheed Constellation, but the design proved exceptionally adaptable and useful. Large numbers continue to see service in a wide variety of niche roles well into the 21st century. In 2013 it was estimated that approximately 2,000 DC-3s and military derivatives were still flying, a testament to the durability of the design.

The Beech 18

Flying alongside the Dakota will be 3 Beech 18 aircraft which was first produced in 1937.

During and after World War II, over 4,500 Beech 18s saw military service—as light transport, light bomber (for China), aircrew trainer (for bombing, navigation and gunnery), photo-reconnaissance, and “mother ship” for target drones—including United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) C-45 Expeditor, AT-7 Navigator, AT-11 Kansan; and United States Navy (USN) UC-45J Navigator, SNB-1 Kansan, and others. In World War II, over 90% of USAAF bombardiers and navigators trained in these aircraft

In the early postwar era, the Beech 18 was the pre-eminent “business aircraft” and “feeder airliner.” Besides carrying passengers, its civilian uses have included aerial spraying, sterile insect release, fish seeding, dry-ice cloud seeding, aerial firefighting, air mail delivery, ambulance service, numerous movie productions, skydiving, freight, weapon- and drug-smuggling, engine testbed, skywriting, banner towing, and stunt aircraft. Many are now privately owned, around the world, with 240 in the U.S. still on the FAA Aircraft Registry in August 2017.

Between 1937 and end of production in 1970 over 9000 had been produced.



Finally the Royl Navy – Navy Wings will be bringing their newly restored Sea Fury T20 which under went a 3 year resotration to flight after an engine failure on landing at RNAS Culdrose.

The Sea Fury T.20 is a twin-seat trainer variant of the Sea Fury and, unlike the other aircraft of the Royal Navy Historic Flight, which are all registered on the military register, Sea Fury T.20 G-RNHF (VX281) is owned by the Navy Wings charity (Fly Navy Heritage Trust) and is operated on the civilian register.

The Sea Fury T20 was a fighter trainer and is still used today by the Royal Navy Historic Flight to give Sea Fury display pilots much valued access to a trainer version of this most demanding of aircraft types.

A masterpiece of power and performance, the T20 generates great interest and excitement at air shows around the country augmenting the Flight when Sea Fury FB.11 is unavailable and enhancing the Royal Navy’s core collection of classic historic naval aircraft.



Check back tomorrow when we cover the final 3 Aircraft coming to Airwaves Portrush! Sea Fury picture from Navy wings website)

My statement on the cancellation of the 2018 Newcastle Festival of Flight .


Hi everyone

Firstly I want to thank Newry, Mourne and Down District CouncilDown Festivals & Royal Air Force for all the hard work that has gone into putting the show together over the last 12 months. While it is disappointing rain caused the cancellation of today’s events, these men and ladies have worked fantastically to put together what should have been a great weekend. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes and it is no easy job putting together an airshow, I am sure they are very disappointed that they were unable to see their hard work come to fruition today in terms of the flying display..

Now, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room, today was a washout for the flying. It’s sad, but these things happen at airshows… this would have been the 9th Festival of Flight and never before had one display cancelled due to weather let alone an entire show cancelled. For a UK airshow, that’s pretty good going.

The RAF put on a fantastic #RAF100 Aircraft tour and #STEM village, I’ve been down multiple times and had a fantastic time, it was a remarkable experience to see a Harrier parked up in Newcastle’s Donard Park! The RAF were so friendly over the last few days, and will be there again tomorrow to welcome you all!

Down Festivals of Newry, Mourne and Down Council, along with Flight Director Mr Rick Peacock-Edwards put together what would have been a wonderful flying display, quite possibly the strongest line up since 2014 in my opinion and no aircraft I know of had tech issues, so it would have been a wonderful display had the weather held.

In 37 years of going to airshows, this wasn’t my first washout, and I am sure it will not be the last. UK and Irish weather is unpredictable as you know.

Also a big thank you to every pilot who was due to display today. I am sure every one of them will be disappointed they did not get to do their brilliant displays.

A personal thanks to Red 10 Squadron Leader Adam Collins who I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to today as well as posing for photos.

Finally I want to say thank you to all of you, the followers of this page. The comments in the aftermath of today showed disappointment, which is understandable while still being respectful. And the vast majority understood the reason why today didn’t go as planned. Safety will always come first and visibility was near 0 today.

As always I have had a lot of fun running this page, I want to thank Down Festivals for letting me continue to run it, as you know I don’t work for or represent them or the council, I am just a guy who loves watching aircraft flying! However they have always been great with me and over the last few years I have built a good relationship with them.

Hopefully next year Newcastle can bounce back strong and have great weather, we’ve been lucky over the years with the sun, so here’s to 2019, as planning will no doubt already be starting!

Thank you.