Southend Airshow

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Southend Festival of the Air
Genre Air show
Dates May
Location(s) Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Country U.K.
Established 1986

The Southend Airshow, officially known as the Southend Festival of the Air, is an annual airshow held in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, in the United Kingdom. The airshow usually spans a two-day period in the May of each year, and is the largest free airshow in Europe.[1] The first Southend airshow was held on Monday 26 May 1986, as the finale of the Southend Spring Festival. The airshow was held annually for 27 years, before its cancellation was announced by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council on 14 January 2013.[2] The event's cancellation is part of austerity cutbacks by Southend Council and is expected to save £130,000.[3] A Save Southend Airshow petition has been started.[4]

This was the only year that there was a fee charged to enter the cordoned-off display area from Shorefields Road to the Three Shells. Adults were charged £3 whilst children aged 3–16 paid £1.

To stop people evading the entrance fee, 8 ft high scaffolding covered with nylon netting was erected. The star of the show on that day was a British Airways Concorde, which performed a double pass carrying 150 passengers whilst on its way back to Heathrow from a trip round the Bay of Biscay. See

Southend is the longest running seafront airshow, and celebrated 25 consecutive years in 2010. It is regarded as the benchmark for all the other towns that saw how popular the event was and copied the idea to boost tourism in their own towns.

Southend has attracted many aircraft and display teams including; The Red Arrows, Frecce Tricolori, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Falcons, the Sally B Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, A10 Thunderbolt, Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, Avro Shackleton, Hawker Siddeley Harrier, Vulcan, F117a, Vickers Viscount, Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, the Saab Draken and a Catalina flying boat estuary takeoff and landing, to its show.


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