Airbourne (air show)

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Eastbourne International Air Show
Genre Free air show
Dates August
Frequency Annually
Location(s) Eastbourne
Coordinates 50°45′53″N 0°17′30″E / 50.764857°N 0.291567°E / 50.764857; 0.291567Coordinates: 50°45′53″N 0°17′30″E / 50.764857°N 0.291567°E / 50.764857; 0.291567
Country England
Activity aerobatic displays
static displays
Organised by Eastbourne Borough Council
Fly-pass over Eastbourne Pier, Sussex. The 'Battle of Britain' flight, flying over Eastbourne Pier during the 2005 'Airbourne' air show.

Airbourne, also known as Eastbourne International Airshow, is a 4-day international air show run every August in Eastbourne, East Sussex, England. The event features Battle of Britain memorial flights and aircraft from the RAF and USAF, among others, and enjoys a long relationship with the Red Arrows display team.

Started in 1993,[1] the show is run by Eastbourne Borough Council, who claim it contributes to the millions of pounds which tourism bring to the town.[2]

A dedicated FM radio station, "Radio Airbourne", broadcasts on 87.7FM during the event.


The costs of Airbourne are largely funded from the budget of the local Eastbourne council, from council tax.

In 2008, Eastbourne Borough Council controversially decided to charge a £5 admission fee, in order to meet the show's rising costs, after they had failed to find a major event sponsor. That year visitor numbers were down while there were additional costs for stewarding the event, creating an operational loss of £170,000.

The Council ordered an internal inquiry and reversed its new event policy of charging for access to public parts of Eastbourne seafront on the event days of the airshow.[3]

Five senior staff members at the Council were made redundant in late 2009. The cause was cited as a cost-cutting exercise, but press reports linked the job losses in part to blame for the 2008 Airbourne finances and public backlash.[4]

At the time, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council David Tutt, said: "We will be investigating what went right, what went wrong and looking very seriously at ways of ensuring the event for future years."[5]

The event continues to take place on an annual basis and be organised and heavily subsidised by the local council, from public taxation.


As with any airshow, some of the activities involved carry risks to human life and Airbourne has seen accidents and fatalities over the years.

Death of Ted Girdler, 2000[edit]

On 18 August 2000 former Red Arrows pilot Ted Girdler was killed when his Aero L-29 Delfín jet failed to pull up from a diving roll and crashed into the English Channel, watched by a crowd of more than 40,000 people.[6][7]

Shoreham Disaster, 2015[edit]

Pilot Andy Hill crashed at Shoreham, killing 11 people, following a failed attempt at a loop manoeuvre. This became known locally and in press as the 'Shoreham Disaster', or 2015 Shoreham Airshow crash. Hill had performed the same maneourvres at Eastbourne Airbourne the week before. Many pilots performing at Airbourne fly from Shoreham Airport, approximately 20 miles away.[8]

Following the Shoreham Disaster the organisers of Eastbourne Airbourne said they would follow enhanced safety guidance set out by the Civil Aviation Authority, which aimed to learn lessons from crash.[9]


External links[edit]