Newcastle 2020 cancelled

Unfortunately the Newcastle Festival of Flight on 20th June has been cancelled. This was no doubt a hard decision but the correct decision in these trying times.

Roll on 2021!


Statement from Visit Mourne Mountains

Following careful consideration of the government’s ongoing response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is with great regret that Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have had to take the decision to cancel this year’s Festival of Flight, due to take place on Saturday 20 June 2020.

In response to the announcement, Council Chairperson Councillor Charlie Casey said, “The Council acknowledges the economic impact that this event brings to Newcastle and the wider-region and the huge-amount of planning and preparation that is undertaken by our partners including the blue-light services.”

“We will continue to review plans for this year’s tourism events’ programme on an ongoing basis and in-line with guidance from the Public Health Agency.”


Newcastle 2020 date revealed

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Newcastle Festival of Flight 2020 cleared for take off!

The Newcastle Festival of Flight returns in 2020 on the 20th June! After the success of last years show the Airshow has been kept in June for 2020!

As of right now I am unable to confirm any aircraft, that will come later in the Spring when the RAF start to release their schedules. However, mark the date. as reported in today’s Mourne Observer, 20th June 2020 will see the return of the Newcastle Festival of Flight.
Mourne Observer press release

Newcastle’s Festival of Flight will take to the air again in June this year.

The annual spectacular was brought forward by two months from its regular August slot last year as a result of festival mainstays, the Red Arrows embarking on a 9 week North American summer tour. and whilst the RAF have not yet published the aerobatic teams dates for 2020 the council has pencilled in June 20th as the date for its marquee Newcastle event.

Last week the local authority began a £25,000 search for suppliers to support the delivery of its annual events programme for 2020/21. Other festival dates were also listed through the provision of ancillary services and personal.

As well as the Festival of Flight, the tender includes Footsteps in the Forest in Slieve Gullion (date to be confirmed) Warrenpoint’s Wake the Giant (29th & 30th August) Halloween in Newy (30th October) Hallowtides in Newcastle (31st October)

Narnia in Kilbroney Park (A date to be confirmed in November) Newry Christmas tree lights switch on (19th November) Downpatrick Christmas lights switch on (20th November) and the St Patricks day events in Newry and Downpatrick (17th March 2021)

The successful tenderer will have to supply each event with a range of items and services, including generators, porta-loos, pedestrian barriers, electricians, and general labourers.

Aircraft Preview – RAFAT Red Arrows

Our final Newcastle Aircraft Profile is the world Famous RAF Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows in their 9 Red T1 Hawk aircraft.

The Red Arrows are returning to Newcastle having been a regular at the Festival of Flight since the beginning.

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.

I look forward to seeing the Red Arrows in Newcastle once again. Having already seen them a number of times I can tell you this year the display from the Red Arrows is fantastic

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Newcastle aircraft preview Day 5 part 2 – BBMF DC3 Dakota


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 aircraft was adopted by Strike Command and issued to the BBMF in March 1993. In 2004, an original and authentic floor and interior was re-fitted to the Dakota, returning the cabin to the original, wartime specification. As there are now no other multi-engine tail wheel aircraft in RAF service outside the BBMF, the Dakota is an important training asset used for initial training of aircrew for the BBMF multi-engine aircraft and for renewing the currency of the Flight’s Lancaster pilots each year. In addition to this role though, the Dakota is a sought-after display aircraft in her own right and, as such, she appears regularly on the air show circuit either on her own or as part of a BBMF formation. She continues to be capable of para-dropping and is used in that role for special commemorative events.

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. Info from BBMF website

Check back later for our final aircraft preview.


Newcastle aircraft preview day 5 part 1 – RAF Shorts Tucano


Day 5 Part 1 of our Newcastle aircraft preview is the Belfast built Shorts Tucano!

The Tucano T.Mk 1 provides basic fast jet training (BFJT) to RAF and RN aircrew on their training pathway to frontline fast jet aircraft. It is flown by 72 Sqn with No. 1 Flying Training School (FTS), at Royal Air Force Linton-on-Ouse.

The Tucano T1 combines the economy of turboprop power with jet-like handling and is capable of providing a full range of aircrew training. Formation flying, low-level navigation, poor weather flying and aerobatic handling are taught on 72 Sqn, taking advantage of the aircraft’s excellent endurance to maximise sortie utility. From its base in North Yorkshire, The Tucano is able to fly training sorties as far away as Wales and central Scotland, finding the most suitable weather and taking advantage of varied training environments.

he search to replace the Cessna T-37 in US service ultimately led, via a rather tortuous route, to the Beechcraft T-6C Texan II, the type scheduled to replace the Tucano in the BJFT role. Ironically, it was the wider T-37 replacement market that also spurred Brazil’s Embraer into developing the EMB-312 Tucano, designed against a Força Aérea Brasiliera (FAB, Brazilian Air Force) requirement and first flown on August 16, 1980.

The FAB took its first example in September 1983 and subsequently amassed a sizeable fleet, latterly including the larger and considerably more powerful EMB-314 Super Tucano, a next-generation turboprop trainer that has also seen extensive combat use in the light attack and air-to-air roles. Among its export successes, the Tucano received a large order from France, which installed its own avionics and, most importantly, the Royal Air Force.

Contemporary RAF basic fast jet training was performed on the Hunting Jet Provost, which had entered service in the 1950s and introduced jet power and a tricycle undercarriage to the basic training regime. Almost three decades later, the Tucano made for a radical change, with its turboprop power and tandem, rather than side-by-side seating. Indeed, it was the first tandemseat RAF basic trainer to enter service since the de Havilland Canada Chipmunk of 1950.

Various changes were made to the base machine and in order to meet British requirements in the event of a low-level birdstrike the Tucano’s canopy was modified; at the same time, it was reprofiled to be closer to that of the Hawk. It was also discovered that the Tucano’s climb rate on the 750hp of its PT6A-25C turboprop was insufficient and the type was re-engined with the considerably more powerful Garrett (now Honeywell) TPE331. Embraer modified one aircraft with the new engine in Brazil, supplying it to Shorts of Belfast in 1986 as a pattern airframe for the 130 licence-built aircraft that followed for the RAF.

Shorts flew the first Tucano T.Mk 1 on December 30, 1986 and the type entered service with the Central Flying School at RAF Scampton, for trials, in June 1988. The first Tucano ab initio course began at RAF Church Fenton with 7 FTS in December 1989. Today, students come to the Tucano from the Tutor and progress onto the Hawk T2, but from 2019 the Tucano will be replaced and the fast jet training progression will be Prefect, Texan II, Hawk T2. Info from Tucano website.

It is sad to see the last Belfast built aircraft going out of service soon, but it is fantastic to have the Tucano back for one last time in Newcastle!

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Newcastle Aircraft Preview Day 4 Part 3 – Global Stars


The Global Stars are a team of British aerobatic champions past and present flying air shows World over. All aircraft carry the new “dotty smoke” systems adding to the dynamic nature of the air show. The display is very dynamic with a short solo by Mark Jefferies or Tom Cassells (both British Champions) keeping the action right in front of the crowd.

in 2012 the Global Stars were formed by Mark Jefferies with Tom Cassells as his wing-man.

The Global Stars team provide spectacular formation air displays or solo air displays. For 2016 Mark has purchased the very latest, highest performance certified aircraft the EXTRA 330SC. The team have flown many flying displays and air shows around the World in recent years.

Typically the Global Stars team lead by Mark Jefferies perform 3 International shows per year. Tom flying as formation leader of the Global Stars team have flown Bahrain and Hyderabad (as of writing, March 2016) Bookings for 2017 now in for China and a World Air Masters (WAM) event in March 2017.

Mark is flying the new EXTRA 330SC; Tom flies the Extra 300L or CAP 232, Chris the Extra 300s, Steve the Extra 260 will put on a stunning, world-class air display. Back up reserve pilot Michael Pickin flying the CAP 232.

Mark Jefferies has achieved great success and worldwide recognition as one of the most accomplished aviators in the UK; including 1st in Zhengzhou 2015 WAM, 3rd in the 2011 WAM, ranked 8th in the World in 2007 and 10th in the World 2009. Nine times British aerobatic champion (Advanced & Unlimited).

Mark Jefferies has spectacular manoeuvres, tumbles and spins in the Extra 330SC leaving pilots and spectators alike saying “how did he do that?” A flying display your audience will never forget… No show too large or small to attend. Corporate, Weddings and private parties a specialty – it’s not as expensive as you might first think and far better than fireworks.

Mark bases his Extra 330SC at Little Gransden, Cambridgeshire (ICAO EGMJ) Gransden is a farm strip and has a main grass runway of 810 meters. The airfield is open to visitors either by road or by air. Gransden is the home of the Global Stars and as such, most likely you will find some aerobatic training taking place. Duel training in the Extra 300L or solo competition/air show training in the Extra 300s or 330sc.

The Aircraft

Extra 330sc

Extra 330SC (single competition) is the top of the range awesome aerobatic aircraft with +10/-10 G limits. G-IIHI, it is one of the first of its type to be built, its serial number is 008 and it is entirely in a class of its own. It is fitted with the newly certified Lycoming AE10-580 engine which has been specifically developed for high performance aerobatic aircraft. The engine produces an impressive 320hp (580 cubic inches but only turning at 2700 rpm) which when you consider there is no ground resistance, is quite incredible.

Its maximum diving speed is 418 km/h and it has an incredibly fast roll rate of 420 degrees per second. If the weather conditions are right, the aircraft can be seen to hover and in the right hands, it really does performs manoeuvres that should not be possible!
Mark Jefferies is one of the few pilots that can fly this aircraft to its limits! As well as its sporty paint scheme,

the Extra 330SC has a unique smoke system fitted which enables smoke to be “pulsed” out, offering something different to air show audiences.

With the latest technology cameras fitted to the aircraft, live footage can be transmitted to trackside screens giving the audience a bird’s eye view of the event. Cameras can be fitted anywhere on the aircraft, including inside the cockpit which gives a very interesting perspective of the world. Footage can be given directly to TV news channels to report on and promote the event or can be used later for promotional material.

Extra 300L

The Extra Flugzeugbau EA300 is a two-seat aerobatic monoplane capable of Unlimited category competition. It was designed in 1987 by Walter Extra, an award-winning German aerobatic pilot and built by Extra Flugzeugbau.

Design of the Extra 300 was based on the Extra 230, an early 1980s monoplane having a wing made of wood. The Extra 300 has a welded steel tube fuselage covered in aluminium and fabric.

The mid-set wing has a carbon fiber composite spar and carbon composite skins. A symmetrical airfoil, mounted with a zero angle of incidence, provides equal performance in both upright and inverted flight. The landing gear is fixed taildragger style with composite main legs and fiberglass wheel pants.

The engine is a fuel-injected Lycoming AEIO-540 which produces 300 horsepower (224 kW). The first two-seat Extra 300 made its maiden flight on 6 May 1988 with German type certification following on 16 May 1990. The single seat Extra 300S flew on 4 March 1992. The Extra 300 is stressed for ±10 G with one person on board and ±8 G with two.

Cap 232

The CAP Aviation CAP-23x family is a family of high-performance aircraft designed for competition aerobatics. The CAP 230 airframe was a direct development of the CAP 21 competition single seater strengthened to cope with a 300 hp 6-cylinder Lycoming AEIO-540 engine instead of the 200 hp original 4-cylinder Lycoming AEIO-360.

The CAP 230 was primarily developed in 1985 for the French Air Force. From the basic CAP 21 airframe, trailing edge apex triangular surfaces were added to the basic trapezoidal wing. The CAP 230 keeps a full wooden construction and certified to cope with +10/-10 G-forces. The CAP 231 was developed in 1990.

The fuselage design remained unchanged and only leading edge triangular apex surfaces were added to reduce buffeting during high G pullups. The CAP 231 was world champion in 1990. To increase performance, in 1991, a carbon-fiber wing taken from an EXTRA 260 (thus the -EX name) was adapted to a few CAP 231 airframes.

The CAP 231EX evolved in 1994. While the fuselage construction retained wood, a carbon-fiber wing was specially designed for durability and light weight. The design has won the World Championships in 1998, 2000 and 2007, as well as a number of other national-level competitions. With a roll rate of 420° per second and a climb rate of nearly 3,300 feet per minute, the CAP-232 is still well suited for the aerobatic circuit.

We look forward to seeing the Global Stars in Newcastle once again.

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Newcastle Aircraft Preview Day 4 Part 2 – Team Raven


Team Raven are a formation aerobatic display team that formed in May 2014. They are the phoenix to the disbandment of Team Osprey & Team Viper the former a Yak 52 team which consisted of Bob Oliver (now the Team Raven commentator), Steve Lloyd and Barry Gwynnett. And the latter being a 5 ship Hawker Hunter display team.

Having formed embryonically in late 2013 with Steve and Barry they were looking for more RV owners with formation and display experience. Gerald Williams was an obvious choice with a soon-to-be completed RV8 and fresh from Team Viper; along with him he brought Mark Southern, also from Team Viper with a recently acquired RV8. Originally flagged to have Gerald as the lead pilot, a recent life and mind-set change from Simon ‘Sid’ Shirley in February 2014 lead to the purchase of an RV4 and the Team had a leader.

Despite this apparent disparate collection of pilots, the Team have known each other for many years; indeed, Steve, Barry, Gerald and Sid have flown in and around Swansea in Yak 52s for many years and Gerald has flown with Mark for a number of years in ex-military fast jets. This has resulted in an extremely close knit Team that revels in each other’s company.

Entirely self-funded, the Team has striven to create a professional and effective display team with a corporate image right off the bat that sets the right tone in all that they do. Although in some senses they are differing characters, the Team Raven pilots (and indeed support crew) share the same professionalism, drive, enthusiasm and passion for aviation and display flying; they are also great mates with a shared sense of humour!

The choice of aircraft is purely down to the vision of Steve, who having bought an RV4 in 2008 declared that “these things are the future of affordable performance light aviation”. He was right. Initially keeping the RV4, Steve sold his Yak 52 and embarked on building his RV8 whilst trying to convince the other 2 members of Team Osprey to sell the Yaks and buy RVs – he was 50% successful. The Team name ‘Raven’ came from a play on the letters ‘RV’ and makes more sense if written ‘RaVen’ as per the badge on the sides of the aircraft fuselages.

In 2015 Team RaVen flew a 4 ship display in Newcastle however for 2016 this has been increased to 6 aircraft with multiple new display moves added to their routine..


The Ravens use Van’s RV aircraft with a mix of 1 RV4 and 5 RV8s. All are self build aircraft, albeit only Ravens 2 and 4 have been self built by the Team. They are of aluminium construction and use standard Lycoming io-360, 180hp engines coupled to constant propellers, which given their light weight results in an agreeable power to weight ratio. Performance is very good, especially climb rate when measured against typical flying club aircraft such as the C152 & PA28/38s, but they are not carbon fibre rocket ships such as the Extra 300s and Edge 540s on the display scene and competition circuit. However, they are fully aerobatic with a decent ‘g’-limit range and a aerobatic ability and as such are ideal for the requirements of Team Raven.

The Team have self-modified their aircraft with smoke systems. The aircraft as well as being fully aerobatic are relatively quick and frugal which further adds to their attraction for private ownership.

They are a pilot’s aircraft and a delight to fly, but being tail draggers are always able to keep the unsuspecting pilot on their toes! We are above all, passionate aviation enthusiasts and consequently are more than happy to discuss our aircraft with anyone who cares to listen at any venue we attend. The aircraft are all self funded and owned and run by each of their pilots respectively.

We really look forward to seeing Team Raven in Newcastle again on Saturday!

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Newcastle Aircraft Preview Day 4 Part 1 – AeroSuperBatic Wingwalkers

Newcastle Aircraft Preview Day 4 Part 1 – AeroSuperBatic Wingwalkers

The AeroSuperBatic Wingwalkers are a UK based wing-walking team and have been specialists in display flying for over 30 years and operate one of the best known and loved civilian air display acts in Europe, they will be making their debut at the Newcastle Festival of Flight in 2018!

Their wingwalking team has performed at over 2500 different events successfully representing several large brand names in the form of very high profile sponsorship deals. Their displays are seen live by over 6 million spectators each year in the UK alone.
They perform a breathtaking sequence of acrobatic manoeuvres and handstands whilst strapped to the top wings of the team’s beautiful Boeing Stearman biplanes.

The Aircraft

As for the aircraft, The Boeing Stearman is a biplane used as a military trainer aircraft, of which at least 10,626 were built in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s.

After World War II, the thousands of primary trainer PT-17 Stearman planes were auctioned off to civilians and former pilots. Many were modified for cropdusting use, with a hopper for pesticide or fertilizer fitted in place of the front cockpit.

There are many examples flying still today, and mainly used for aerobatics at airshows. And we are sure they will thrill the crowds at Bray this coming weekend!!

It will be great to see the Aerosuperbatic Wingwalkers make their debut in Newcastle along with the gorgeous ladies who will put on a great display of gymnastics on the wings while the aircraft put on a thrilling aerobatic display.

Check back later for another aircraft preview.

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Newcastle Aircraft Preview Day 3 – Part 2 – The Blades

Making their debut in Newcastle is a very exciting display team, the Blades Aerobatic Display team, a team made up fully of former Red Arrows pilots!

The Blades Aerobatic Display Team is a full-time civilian display team who are now in their 14th season! It is the only display team in the world that, in addition to flying air displays, also acts as an airline taking passengers on close formation aerobatic flights for unforgettable flying experiences.

The team is based at the Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire and were founded in 2005 by Andy Offer, a former leader of the Red Arrows, and Chris Norton, a Royal Air Force wing commander. There are eight pilots including five full-time display performers. All of the pilots are former members of the Royal Air Force and the aerobatic team all flew with the Red Arrows.

The team fly four Extra 300LPs and an Extra 330SC, the latter being used for solo sections of the performances. These two-seated propeller aircraft are used for four plane displays as well as corporate flying events during which passengers can be carried on board.

The aircraft were originally painted orange and black but later changed to light blue and black. By 2013 they had reverted to the orange and black colour scheme, now they fly in Red and Black..

The Blades made their debut performance in 2006 at a party held by David Beckham prior to the World Cup. Since then they have performed as part of the 80th birthday celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle, and at the Bahrain Grand Prix and Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

They hold the world record for formation looping having completed 26 consecutive loops, with blind bank manager Mike Newman taking control for the beginning of the stunt before co-pilot Myles Garland resumed control for the other loops.

Alongside their aerobatic displays and commercial work, The Blades also help the Royal Air Forces Association, a charity that supports RAF service personnel. This will also be the Blades first display in NI since 2015 at Portrush.

I look forward to seeing the Blades putting on a fantastic display and I am sure you will love them! Check back tomorrow for another aircraft preview

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Newcastle Aircraft Preview Day 3 – Part 1 – Rich Goodwin Pitts Special


Day 3 of our Newcastle Festival of Flight aircraft preview begins with the amazing Rich Goodwin and his very colourful Pitts Special Muscle Bi-Plane.

Now returning for a 5th Festival of Flight, Rich Goodwin has become a firm favourite not just in Newcastle but all over the island of Ireland taking part in many shows over here in recent years and is one of the most requested non military displays.

G-EWIZ has been specially modified to provide the ultimate Biplane for Air Show displays, The modification programme has given this Biplane enhanced capabilities producing a unique style of Aerobatics you won’t see in many other aircraft.

The Pitts Special may surprise you if you have not seen the display before 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 Rich Goodwin’s blood. His father flew the Hawker Hunter and Lightening jets for the RAF and Richard 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.

We very much look forward to seeing Rich Goodwin once again at the Festival of Flight in Newcastle on the 22nd June, it is one display you will not want to miss as it will leave you wanting more!

Check back later for another aircraft preview.


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