NO OTHER EVENT IN JERSEY SPAWNS SUCH A MASS OF SPECTATORS, DRAWING VISITORS FROM FAR AND WIDE. IN FACT, THE DECADES-OLD DISPLAY HAS RECEIVED WORLD-RENOWNED RECOGNITION.
The picture-perfect backdrop of St. Aubin’s Bay on our south coast provides a fantastic, natural amphitheatre for the event’s many flawless aerobatic sequences – allowing budding spectators an enviable view of the display aircraft from a wide range of vantage points and all for free.
Ever since it began, the event has become a hub of atmosphere, whereby static displays, food stalls and military vehicles take pride of place on the Lower Park, usually between the hours of 12 – 5pm, although a full timetable is generally released two weeks in advance.
Since the Air Display first took to Jersey skies, it’s certainly made a name for itself, playing host to a wide variety of aircraft, many of which are on show from countless different countries, including Belgium, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. However, it’s the RAF Red Arrows who remain the highlight for many spectators. From their spectacular style to their fastidiousness when it comes to showcasing a series of mesmorising and immaculately executed aerobatic routines, they’re the climax worth waiting for and a unique distinction – never having missed a Jersey show in their entire existence.
From the Silence Twister’s stereotypically elegant aerobatics to the penchant for the unusual Edgley Optica, Jersey Air Show has a reputation for attracting a series of rare acts. Yet, over the years, it has also been the target of much bad luck.
Take 2001 as a fine example, when the show — always held on the Thursday nearest the Battle of Britain — counteracted to the disastrous acts taking place in the USA at the time – which ultimately forced British airspace into lock-down. Fortunately, restrictions were lifted, and the show went on. A decade later and a blanket of cloud shrouded the island in thick fog, which completely prevented 2011’s flying display from taking place at all. 2012 proved a much better year, yet despite a stream of good luck, almost half the anticipated flying programme (on show day itself!) dropped out in 2013. First to go was the RAF’s Tutor, all appearances of which were cancelled after the aircraft’s much talked about propeller problems. Following suit was the Swedish Air Force Historic ‘Tunnan’, which proceeded to succumb to a series of engine woes. On top of this, the Royal Navy Sea King, the RAF C-17, Sentry and Sentinel flybys also fell by the wayside due to a succession of operational requirements. Both the BBMF and an autogyro announced that the weather would keep them from making it to Jersey, whilst the Sea Vixen suffered a gearbox fault and was grounded. And as if that wasn’t enough, on the day itself, news arrived that the much-awaited debut of the Canberra PR9 was no longer in the running due to conditions back in the UK; the same went for the AAC Lynx, causing the elements to cancel a planned wingsuit jump. The excellent weather in Jersey made little difference!
However, a series of frenzied efforts’ from organisers and the members of the flying control committee granted a number of last-minute stand-ins, all of which arrived at the eleventh-hour, including three additional acts, which originally appeared at neighbouring Guernsey’s display. The show was opened with Kennet Aviation’s Skyraider, piloted by John Beattie, the Old Flying Machine Company’s P-51D Mustang ‘Ferocious Frankie’, in the hands of Nigel Lamb, and the RV-8tors.
Channel Islands airline Aurigny also helped to save the day, granting ‘local celebrity’ Trislander G-JOEY an appearance in the airport static display, as well as two flypasts – this was to be the first time the star of the popular children’s books had flown in a Jersey event.
Regardless of what misfortunes may occur, you can guarantee some exuberant flare firing to brighten up the Jersey skies come air show day. It’s little wonder then, that Jersey is a proud beneficiary of the European Airshow Council’s Paul Bowen Trophy for best European air display. The end result has always been resourceful, diverse and most importantly, highly enjoyable.