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Show goes on for Red Arrows

PUBLISHED: 10:45 02 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:57 06 July 2010

ORGANISERS of the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival are confident that the Red Arrows will be returning to the town for this year's event in August despite of a pre-season training accident last week.

ORGANISERS of the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival are confident that the Red Arrows will be returning to the town for this year's event in August despite of a pre-season training accident last week.

The world-famous aerobatic team were undertaking pre-season training in the Mediterranean island of Crete when two of the nine aircraft were involved in a mid-air collision. Both pilots escaped serious injury but one of the Hawk aircraft crashed on to the runway of the Hellenic Air Force Base at Kastelli, where the team are currently based.

The aircraft were being flown by Flt Lt Mike Ling and Flt Lt David Montenegro, both of whom flew with the Red Arrows at last year's Lowestoft air-show.

Flt Lt Ling ejected from his aircraft and sustained a dislocated shoulder and minor injuries. Although his aircraft was damaged at the rear Flt Lt Montenegro managed to land his Hawk safely with no injuries.

An official RAF spokesman said: “A Service inquiry has been launched and an air crash investigation team is now in Crete.

“Safety is paramount. The team will recommence training for the forthcoming season once preliminary inquiries into the accident have been completed to the satisfaction of the chain of command.

“It is too early to speculate on the format and composition of the likely display routine. The investigation will determine the facts and further information will be provided in due course.

“It would be inappropriate to speculate on the cause of the crash,” he added.

The accident occurred soon after Lowestoft Air Festival organisers had received confirmation from the RAF that the Red Arrows would be appearing on both days of the town's 14th Air Festival on Thursday August 12 and Friday August 13.

Paul Bayfield, managing director of the “not for profit” Air Festival company, said: “We are relieved that both pilots involved in this mid-air collision escaped without serious injury and amazingly that one of them succeeded in safely landing his damaged aircraft.

“We are pleased to hear that training will soon be resumed and we look forward once again to welcoming them back to Lowestoft. It would not be the same without them because they've appeared here every year but one since the Air Festival began 13 years ago.”

THE RAF events team has also confirmed Lowestoft air festival has been allocated the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a Shorts Tucano, BAe Hawk solo jet, King Air and Tutor training aircraft and a Sea King search and rescue helicopter.

All the RAF aircraft are scheduled to display on both days and this exciting news comes shortly after organisers were given the go-ahead to include the world's only airworthy Avro Vulcan bomber on their programme again this year.

This follows an anonymous donation of nearly £500,000 which has enabled the delta-winged aircraft's private operators, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust to continue giving displays in the 2010 airshow season.

Mr Bayfield said: “This is fantastic news. We didn't know what to expect when we applied to the RAF events team last September, especially as we have had to move the dates of this year's show to fit in with school holidays and RAF leave patterns.

“We also found that we had no alternative but to go head to head with the Eastbourne Airborne show and we were concerned that this clash might affect what aircraft we could expect to be allocated by the RAF.

“However, this full allocation plus the great news about the Vulcan means that we now have the basis of our display and can go ahead and book more displays to fill the four-hour flying programme on both days.”

There was more good news for the organisers at their meeting on Friday.

Sponsorship and operations manager Keith Moughton reported that matters were well advanced on the ground. Only seven sites remained to be filled by traders, all the charity sites were fully booked and they had received 60 bids for the 28 caterers' sites.

To join the Friends of the Air Festival and keep up to date with all the latest news of this year's big event log on to the website at: www.lowestoftairfestival.co.uk

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