THIS year’s air festival has been blessed with the best weather for nearly a decade.

After the final day washout in 2017 when Sunday’s flying programme was abandoned, 2018 has been a scorcher.

And with new displays proving a big hit with the public, it has been a perfect combination said festival director, Jon Weaver.

“It has been the best four days since 2009,” he told the Echo. “”But let’s face it, we have been due good weather for the event.

“I am so pleased people turned out in such large numbers. It has been a great success. I think this shows the strength of the festival."

The event, which attracted 1,006,000 visitors (and almost ten million since its inception in 2008) will be back over the same four days next year.

It costs around £800,000 to put on the festival. The borough council is the biggest backer but there are numerous corporate sponsors who put up the cash for the bulk of the displays.

“Without them it wouldn’t possible and we all know that financially things are a bit tight these days for everyone.”

Mr Weaver said: “After 11 years people say, it must get easier but I think it gets harder because expectations are always rising and it’s a constant challenge to make it an even better experience every year.”

He has been delighted with the reaction to the new boys in town, the Breitling Jet team, the Gravity Jet Suit display and the Super Pitts Muscle Plane.

“We had been trying to get Breitling here for some years so it was great to finally achieve that.

"They are very different to the Red Arrows and actually they complement them. The Reds are hard and fast, Breitling are more majestic. They are not the same thing.”

The Gravity Industries’ Jet Suit pilots were also a major draw.

“We had to put a lot of measures in place because they had never done a show this big before. It was something a bit different and it looks as though we tested them to the limit.”

Both pilots ditched on separate days.

Mr Weaver added: “They have certainly had a lot of exposure.”

The director was full of praise for the stupendous Super Pitts Muscle Plane, the surprise package of the festival.

“That pilot is insane.

"People were asking, how does he do that? A number of onlookers said they had never seen a display so exciting and so barnstorming.”

The big charity fundraiser of the weekend was the annual VIP hospitality day for the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation on Sunday.

It is the foundation’s tenth anniversary this year and it was actually started at the air festival hospitality day in 2008.

 The charity was established in memory of John, who killed earlier that year while serving with 40 Commando Royal Marines in Afghanistan. It raises funds to help young people realise their dreams, ambitions and potential.”

John dad’s Pete said: “This is always a special event for us, especially this year.

“It’s wonderful to see new faces coming along to support as well as old faces who have done so much over the years.”

Pete said they hoped to raise as much as £10,000 from the day.