BOURNEMOUTH Air Festival has been a “fantastic few days of entertainment” this year, leaders at the council have said. 

Despite a rain-affected opening day on Thursday, hundreds of thousands of people still flocked to the town to enjoy three solid days of aviation-packed entertainment. 

This year saw the debut of two new displays, including the North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco plane and Starlings Aerobatic team – both of whom were warmly received. 

The Red Arrows, the only display to perform on all four days, stunned the crowds with their world-renowned display. 

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Established favourites such as the Yakovlev 50, de Havilland Vampire FB.52 and Battle of Britain memorial display enthralled visitors once again as they passed overhead. 

The Typhoon concluded the four-day show on late Sunday afternoon with noise and speed. 

Portfolio holder for tourism at BCP Council Cllr Millie Earl said: “Bournemouth Air Festival once again did not fail to disappoint the crowds that came in their thousands to the town.” 

On Friday and Saturday evening the Firebirds Display Team lit up the night skies with their vibrant pyrotechnics. 

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Homegrown talent Nigel Reid, one half of the Firebirds team which also includes John Dodd, was one of the civilian pilots taking part in this year’s event. 

The Poole-based father of five has a rich family history of flying and said he wanted to be a pilot since the age of nine. 

He said: “My father had a Gipsy Moth plane, which was identical to the one English pilot Amy Johnson flew in 1930 when she was the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia. 

“I love displaying at Bournemouth Air Festival. It’s a beautiful bay to perform at and feels even more amazing to have grown up here and now be entertaining the thousands watching.” 

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Jon Weaver, Air Festival director, said: “Once again, we’ve had a fantastic Bournemouth Air Festival and I’m always incredibly proud of the team who have worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to ensure its success. 

“Although the weather on Thursday caused a slight setback, summer arrived in spectacular style which meant the number of people enjoying the festival over the last few days may well have got close to breaking our record attendance figures. 

Jon offered his thanks to the emergency services, the armed forces and RNLI, as well as colleagues, sponsors, hospitality partners and traders.