IN the year the Bournemouth Air Festival was launched, Lehman Brothers went bust and the global financial crash followed.

But while the world economy has been rocked and buffeted and blown off course in the subsequent decade, the air festival certainly has not.

It has prospered, soared, gone from strength to strength and is a couple of days away from celebrating its tenth birthday.

"I suppose, if you were planning to start an air show from scratch, you wouldn't necessarily choose to do it under those circumstances," said Bournemouth's director of tourism, Mark Smith. "But we did and it hasn't gone too badly."

Millions of people, residents and visitors would surely agree.

Mr Smith established a similar festival in Eastbourne and then brought his blueprint to Bournemouth when he took up his post here.

He credits the Echo with helping to give the concept some early altitude.

It was the paper that organised, with others, the annual visit of the Red Arrows for several years before the air festival began.

"We are very proud of the event. It's nice for local people because they have grown up with it and been a huge part of its success.

"It's a tourism officer's dream to see a seafront packed with hundreds of thousands of people who all go away singing the praises of the resort.

"The festival does a great job for the economy and provides a nice feelgood factor for everyone who comes.

"It's also a big investment for the future because children and young people who have great memories and experiences of the air festival and they will want to bring their own children here. It's so important for young people to see what a fantastic place Bournemouth is."

Mr Smith and the air festival director, Jon Weaver both believe the event will still be here in another ten years.

"Some of the other shows have been around for more than 20 years and new ones are starting up, like Torbay and Weston-Super-Mare. There is a big appetite for them," said Mr Weaver.

"One of our advantages is that the pilots love coming here. Many of them tell us this their favourite place to display."

The armed forces continue play a big role as they have done from the start. But the Ministry of Defence continues to be under financial pressure.

Mr Smith added: "We would hope that if decisions are made to scale back the role of the military in air shows and festival, we would be last to be cut because it's an incredible showcase.

"As long as we keep it at the current scale, I can see us surviving for a long time. There is absolutely no reason why not."