THE Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team has a special place in the hearts of millions of people across the UK and around the world, but there are few places where they are held in such high regard as in Bournemouth.

The Red Arrows have been the major attraction of the Bournemouth Air Festival for the past five years. The team has always spoken highly of the event, the crowds and the setting.

Since the tragic death of Flt Lt Jon Egging, shortly after a display in 2011, the town has taken the team even closer to its heart and the Arrows have reciprocated.

Reports at the weekend that they face the chop under defence cuts are far from concrete, but they will have made worrying reading for the people of Bournemouth.

It is estimated that they cost £9million a year to keep in the air – against the backdrop of a multi-billion-pound defence budget, that is small change. Their worth to this area and - to the country - is so much more and that is why they must stay in the air.