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Teesside gets a taste of Top Gun

Teesside Airshow returned for the 2022 airshow season after a five year absence since the cancellation of the 2018 show. Over 20,000 people attended the sought-after event, as it is scheduled to be the only airshow in the North East after the cancellation of the Sunderland Airshow by Sunderland City Council.

Headlining the show were the Red Arrows and the BBMF Spitfire and Hurricane from RAF Coningsby. It also featured the Duxford-based PBY-5A Canso “Miss Pickup” of Loch Ness fame and The Starlings.

The following aircraft were on static display: D.H. Chipmunk, Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVIE, Hawker Hunter, F152 Aerobat, C152 Skyhawk, Percival Jet Provost, Dassault Falcons, ATR 42-320, Piper Warrior II, Piper Tomahawk, Piper PA-34 Seneca.

The Red Arrows conducting a “Tornado” formation heading to show centre. (Ryan Lim)

Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen said: “Now we’re reintroducing events like this, which will be the only airshow in more than 120 miles and attract people from right across the North.

This is just another way that our airport is becoming about more than flights to Alicante, as popular and crucial as they are. This will help to regenerate visitors in its own right and raise our profile even more.”

Peter Davies flies a RotorSport Calidus with Rotax 914 over the crowd showing off the capability of the autogyro. This was nicknamed the “James Bond aircraft” by members of the public. (Ryan Lim)

Marc Watson, Director of Operations for Teesside based flight school Eden Flight Training said in a statement: “The Airshow was a fantastic opportunity for people to get up close to our aircraft and to meet the Eden team to discuss flying training and experience flights with us at our base at the fantastic Teesside International Airport.

We spoke to many different people throughout the day and had a brilliant time showing a number of enthusiastic young people around our aircraft. We would like to thank those who took the time to come and see us, we are very grateful.”

Children were also allowed into the aircraft to see what it’s like to be a pilot. (Ryan Lim)

As of the third of June, the event was sold out leaving no further tickets to be purchased at the gate.

High winds were expected for the day which resulted in the RAF Falcons Parachute Display team landing normally instead of by parachute. A spokesman for the RAF Falcons said: “Before the drop, an advance team arrives on ground to check the weather. This determined that there was a 30mph windspeed. Our parachutes operate a 20mph which would have resulted in either a -10mph backward flight or a 50mph forward flight. This would have resulted in an extremely risky landing, as such we felt it would not be safe to drop.”

The scheduled L-39 Albatross display was also cancelled.

Unfortunately, these were not the only incidents faced by the Teeside Airshow which according to a statement from Teesside Airport, was “a victim of it’s own success” as airshow-related traffic incidents soared throughout the day with some visitors waiting for up to two hours in traffic before turning around.

It is estimated that up to 12 commercial passengers have also missed their flights as a result of this. Commercial passengers with luggage were seen sprinting up the roads heading to the airfield trying to beat the traffic.

Residents in the nearby village of Middleton St George were also noted to be handing out water to stranded drivers as well as opening their homes to children to use the toilets.

This resulted in a traffic gridlock on the nearby A67 in Darlington and Yarm.

An initial statement by Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen said this was a result of an accident on the A66.

He added: “I will also be liaising with the organisers to do whatever I can to get refunds for those who suffered major delays or who were unable to attend as a result of the delays.”

Numerous queues of cars attempting to leave the airshow site. (Ryan Lim)

Skylive Air also released a statement saying: “We employed a professional traffic management company, have held numerous meetings with Stockton and Darlington Councils, the Safety Advisory Group, and the Police. The traffic management plan was fully signed off by everyone.”

Traffic issues were not only faced by people entering the airshow grounds, visitors attempting to leave also faced severe delays. This reporter faced a one and a half hour wait to leave the grounds, estimates show that other users had waited even longer to leave.

Reviews into the airshow-related chaos are expected to be held by the mayor’s office.

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