Red Arrows steal show amid amazing Co Down display of daredevil aerial acrobatics
The annual Festival of Flight took off yesterday as an estimated 100,000 people were wowed by daring aerial displays including the iconic Red Arrows.
The Co Down seaside town of Newcastle plays host to the event each year and was once again packed with aircraft enthusiasts and holidaymakers on Saturday.
The Red Arrows and the AeroSuperBatics Wingwalkers were among the displays during the festival.
The show was one of three performances by the Red Arrows in Northern Ireland on Saturday.
They also carried out flypasts at the Armed Forces Day in Lisburn and later over Donaghadee, Co Down. Displays on the day also included daredevil routines and aerial performances from the Muscle Bi-plane, The Blades, Team Raven, The Global Stars, and the Irish Aerobatic Display Team.
In the 75th anniversary year of the Battle of Britain, The RAF BBMF Douglas Dakota and The RAF Tucano T1 - famously made by Shorts in Belfast - dazzled spectators with an array of vintage flying and low-level fly-bys.
Helicopter Search & Rescue from the Irish Coastguard also impressed crowds with their over-sea skills along with the Irish AirCorps AW139 Helicopter and CASA Maritime aircraft teams.
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Alongside the aerial antics, the ground-based activities included a 'Food and Entertainment Village' in Castle Park which contained a farmers' market, artisan food and drink as well as children's arts and crafts workshops.
Chairman of Newry, Mourne & Down District Council, Councillor Charlie Casey, said before the event over 100,000 spectators from across the island of Ireland were expected, adding that he felt it was the Festival's "strongest line-up for years".
The event is sponsored by Collins Aerospace Kilkeel, which employs a workforce of over 1,000 people who manufacture seating for nearly all the world's major commercial airlines.
Stuart McKee, acting managing director, said: "Our passion for aviation is the foundation of everything we do and we are delighted to have the opportunity to share that passion with others supporting an event which will doubtless be a memorable highlight of the Summer of 2019 as well as a significant contributor to our region's growing tourism economy.
"Our congratulations go to Newry, Mourne & Down District Council for the vision and commitment they have shown in developing this exciting initiative on behalf of all who will enjoy the occasion including our own employees.
"Our thanks also go to the many agencies, organisations and aviation enthusiasts who give their time and expertise to deliver the adrenaline-packed programme.
"Together they create a world class event in a visually dramatic world class location."
The festival is organised by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, with additional support from Tourism Northern Ireland.
This year's Festival of Flight is the second of three free so-called Giant Adventures events for the 2019 visitor season.
The first, Footsteps in the Forest, took place on June 1 and 2 and led visitors on a journey through Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Co Armagh.
After this weekend's festival the final event in the trio is Wake the Giant in Warrenpoint, Co Down, on August 24 and 25 in which visitors will be treated to a new twist in the tale of 32-foot giant Finn by acrobats, drummers and fairies.
For more information, www.visitmournemountains.co.uk/GiantAdventures