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Safety fears allayed ahead of Portrush Airshow

By Donna Deeney

Published 03/09/2015

Michelle Knight-McQuillan
Michelle Knight-McQuillan

A safety expert from the Civil Aviation Authority has assured the public of its safety ahead of Air Waves Portrush Airshow this weekend.

More than 100,000 spectators are due to attend the two-day event which will include a display of trademark formation flying, close-passes and dynamic loops from the RAF Red Arrows on both Saturday and Sunday.

Public awareness of safety has been heightened following the death of 11 spectators at the Shoreham Airshow in Sussex recently when a vintage Hawker Hunter jet crashed on to traffic.

Stuart Luck, the Flying Display Director for Air Waves Portrush, said anyone attending would be perfectly safe.

"My job is to make sure all the safety requirements are in place and maintain the highest standards of safety throughout out the show," he said.

"Obviously our awareness is heightened due to the recent events but airshows over the sea, like this one have not had any restrictions put on them.

"The guidelines laid down in the 1980s were updated by the Civil Aviation Authority last winter and we are constantly improving our safety so that we are now as safe as we know how to be.

"We would encourage people to come to the show, the safety standards are in place and everybody can reassured that they will be safe - probably safer at the airshow than they would be travelling on the road to it."

The airshow at Portrush was a key event for the former Coleraine Borough Council and has been adopted and expanded by the Causeway Coast and Glens Council and sponsored by Tourism Northern Ireland.

Among the major attractions across the weekend are an appearance on Saturday of the last airworthy B-17 Bomber, The Sally-B, made famous in the 1989 film Memphis Belle.

A renowned Swedish Saab Viggen 'Thunderbolt' jet fighter will make its first display on this side of the Irish Sea on Sunday.

Visitors will also be given a unique opportunity to see the massive Vulcan XH558 which is the only flying Vulcan bomber in the world.

This exclusive appearance at Portrush will be its first and last on the island of Ireland before being permanently grounded this month.

Other aerial highlights will include an RAF Typhoon jet, two RAF Hawk jets, the Wild Geese Parachute Display Team, the Blades Display Team, Autogyro and Royal Navy Sea King Helicopter, among the strongest line-up for years.

Causeway Coast Mayor Michelle Knight-McQuillan said maintaining the airshow was high on the new council's priority.

"This was a signature event for what was Coleraine Borough Council and it has now become a signature event for the new council," she said.

"All four legacy councils felt it was something we needed to maintain. The show has always paid its way for the area, the businesses and the local economy and it is such a big draw.

"One in 10 of the Northern Ireland population attended the show last year and we hope that by extending the flight lines and spectator lines, we are confident that even more people will come to the area this year."

For more information on Air Waves Portrush visit www.airwavesportrush.co.uk.

Belfast Telegraph

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