Where to see the best UK air shows in 2017
- Alex Johnston
- 20 March 2017
A round-up of the biggest aviation events in the country to see everything from Spitfires to Concorde
Air shows are to ordinary transport shows what flying is to taking the bus: more spectacular, more thrilling, and just a teeny bit more nerve-wracking. In terms of sheer pulse-racing, adrenalin-fuelled, can-this-really-be-safe excitement, let's be honest: even the most immaculately restored steam tractor or vintage car can't compete with hundreds of tons of steel rushing a few hundred feet above the ground.
But most air shows have more going on than just aerobatics. Many have static displays, where you can get up close to the aircraft and admire the beauty of their design, unless they happen to have been designed for ground attack, in which case they're more likely to look like a piece of farming equipment. Some air shows open up a window on history, with historic aircraft and interactive exhibitions. And of course, there's always the chance to eat fried food from a van.
Here are some of the major UK air shows scheduled for later in the year.
Classic Evening Airshow
Shuttleworth in Biggleswade is home to the Shuttleworth Collection, one of the most extensive collections of vintage aircraft in existence, and they hold monthly airshows during the summer.
Shuttleworth, Biggleswade, 20 May, 17 Jun, 15 Jul
Duxford Air Festival
RAF Duxford is home of the Imperial War Museum Duxford, which contains a collection which, for aviation fans, is pretty much the motherlode: not many other places in Britain give you a chance to get this close to a Concorde and an SR-71 Blackbird. The May festival contains displays, plenty of food and drink and of course a chance to go around the museum.
Imperial War Museum Duxford, 27 28 May
Fly Navy is heaven for naval aviation fans, and the 2017 festival features visits from some legends of naval flying: a DH Sea Vixen, a Fairey Swordfish, a Grumman Wildcat and no less than two Supermarine Seafires, among others.
Shuttleworth, Biggleswade, 4 Jun
Royal International Air Tattoo
The RIAT has the support of the RAF, and there are loads of aerobatic displays and plenty of activities for those who don't want to spend the entire time looking upwards. 2017 sees the ever-popular return of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, as well as displays from the USAF Thunderbirds and a chance to see an F22 Raptor.
RAF Fairford, 14–16 Jul
Scotland's National Airshow
Scotland's National Museum of Flight hosts the biggest air show in Scotland, with displays, fairground rides, snacks and a chance to meet the pilots.
National Museum of Flight, 22 Jul
Sunderland International Airshow
The Sunderland airshow is the only major air show in the North East, and there are civil as well as military displays, plus a visit from the RAF Falcons parachute display team. Plus, unlike most air shows, it's free.
Roker and Seaburn seafronts, Sunderland, 21–23 Jul
Merseyside's airshow is the biggest one in the North West, and it's the only seaside airshow where the aircraft can take off and land in front of the public. The 2017 show promises double the fireworks (yes, we mean actual fireworks), on account of having had to cancel them last year because of the weather.
Southport seafront, Southport, 15–17 Sep
Battle of Britain Air Show
The last big air show of the season, this commemorates Duxford's time as a crucial RAF station during 1940. There's a mass Spitfire flypast and loads of living history.
RAF Duxford, 23–24 Sep