Taking to the sea to watch the heroes of the sky

: The Red Arrows take part in the International Airshow in Sunderland. Picture: DAVIID WOOD (8632262)

: The Red Arrows take part in the International Airshow in Sunderland. Picture: DAVIID WOOD (8632278)

: The Red Arrows take part in the International Airshow in Sunderland. Picture: DAVIID WOOD (8632274)

: The Red Arrows take part in the International Airshow in Sunderland. Picture: DAVIID WOOD (8632290)

: The Memorial Flight takes part in the International Airshow in Sunderland. Picture: DAVID WOOD (8632312)

: The Breitling WingWalking display team takes part in the International Airshow in Sunderland. Picture: DAVID WOOD (8632324)

: An Autogyro takes part in the International Airshow in Sunderland. Picture: DAVID WOOD (8632342)

First published in News
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EACH year, more than a million people head to Sunderland for Europe's biggest free airshow. Unusually, Lizzie Anderson took to the sea to watch the spectacle unfold.

I HAVE a confession to make. Despite living in the North-East for most of my life, I have never been to the Sunderland International Airshow.

This weekend, I was determined to put this right and happily accepted an invitation to watch the famous display aboard a DFDS Seaways Ferry.

Departing from the Port of Tyne in North Shields at 11.30am, the vessel drops anchor opposite Roker and Seaburn beach, giving passengers the chance to view the spectacle from a different perspective. More than 1,000 people took up the opportunity yesterday (Saturday) and today and I for one was glad I did.

The boat trip added an extra sense of adventure to what proved to be an unforgettable afternoon. Stood on the deck with the sun shining and a sea breeze blowing, a ripple of excitement spread across the crowd, as we waited for the airshow begin.

Cameras and smart phones were raised to the sky as the Battle of Britain Dakota aircraft appeared in the skies overhead. Parents pointed to the sky and children stared upwards, fascinated by the planes circling above.

Minutes later, the same children exhibited more extreme responses as the Typhoon FGR4 made its grand entrance on the vista. The noise was like nothing I have ever heard. The kind that vibrates through your body and makes you cover your ears.

I must admit, I jumped out of my skin but those around me gasped in excitement and rushed to the rails for a better view. Some younger children burst in to tears and hid behind their parents legs, while others squealed, giggled and clapped enthusiastically.

The pilot's daring antics were truly captivating, soaring upwards, spinning and turning, before dipping down and rocketing across our field of vision.

Unfortunately, yesterday (Saturday), we returned to North Shields before the Red Arrows took to the sky but the Blades, a team of former Red Arrow pilots, made up for this, wowing us with daring acrobatics and precise co-ordination. It was an exhilarating performance and I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like for those in the cockpit. I will certainly be returning for more next year.

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