THE spirit of the Bournemouth Air Festival has been kept alive with this year’s virtual attraction. Celebrating the 13th air festival, the event was directed at Centre VR in Bournemouth broadcasting live presentations, competitions and entertainment from the Armed Forces.

Thousands tuned in for the first time to watch the three day online festival, celebrating the land, sea and air this year, which included the Royal Navy on Friday, night air and Air Festival celebrations, the Royal Air Force hour on Saturday, the Red Arrows, festival fun and Sunday’s daredevil flying, vintage hour and slots featuring the Army.

Squadron Leader Martin Pert, Red 1 and Team Leader of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows said: “This has been a very different year for people everywhere and the team in Bournemouth have certainly kept the spirit of the festival alive, on a virtual platform, for us all to enjoy. It has been great to be involved, sharing an insight into the Red Arrows with a live interview with Red 8, Flight Lieutenant Damo Green, exclusive behind-the-scenes videos with our technicians, a chance for me to contribute as Team Leader and a look back at our 2018, RAF100, display. Bournemouth is one of our favourite seaside locations and we hope people can see us perform there as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

Jon Weaver, Air Festival Director said; “I have handed the festival over to the team this year, and, for once, I’ve had no worries about the weather: the show has gone on regardless!

“With a different approach it has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase the great variety of entertainment, display teams, aircraft, organisations and people that help to make the festival happen.”

Audience members were invited to take part in Fancy Dress Friday seeing entries of people dressed as pilots. Other highlights included interviews with Pete Wells – the first pilot to display with pyrotechnics at Bournemouth in 2012 – and an acoustic set from Scouting for Girls’ lead singer Roy Stride.

Exclusive footage and interviews with the Red Arrows, the Tigers Parachute Team, and the Blades Aerobatic Display Team were streamed live too.

Cllr Vikki Slade, Leader of BCP Council, said: “This virtual event has been very well received. Due to the global pandemic so many events have had to be postponed but we are so pleased that we have been able to provide this virtual event – in keeping with the ‘new normal’ – and help to galvanise interest in next year’s event when we will, hopefully, be able to welcome back our visitors.

Highlights from the weekend’s event will be showcased in a special promotional video available later this week at and posted on social media platforms. If you missed some of the entertainment or simply want to watch it back, the virtual broadcast can be found on the official LoveBournemouth YouTube channel.

Lucy Cooper, City Manager of sponsor CityFibre, said: “It is really important to us to help boost local events particularly one as popular as the Bournemouth Air Festival.

“We are building a £35million full fibre network in Bournemouth as part of our dedication to the town. It is through our commitment to enhancing technological connectivity that we are able to help produce such events as the virtual air festival.

The virtual event also featured the Bridge family whose YouTube video of a lockdown recreation of the Air Festival received more than 300,000 views.

Martin Bridge said appearing at the festival, where they were interviewed by popular presenters Andy Marlor and George Bacon, had been a nice family moment together. “It’s been a really good experience; very different from I thought it would be,” he said. “It’s been very relaxed.”