After a year of virus-induced hibernation, the air show fraternity managed a sputtering start this year. RIAT, Cosford and Eastbourne (among others) cancelled but, to their credit, the organisers of the Bournemouth Air Festival seemed determined throughout the year that their event would go ahead.

I moved to the Isle of Wight earlier this year, so this four day event is now my local show. I attended on Thursday and Friday – my first air show for two years.

Content was typical for a free seaside airshow, although some classic jets would have been welcome. For me, the warbirds of Ultimate Fighters (Spitfire, Mustang, Buchon, Thunderbolt) were the highlights.

The Bournemouth Air Festival venue is challenging for photographers. The crowd faces south and, because the show is so late in the summer, the sun is low and never passes behind the crowd line. Thursday was overcast and Friday was sunny, but I found Thursday more successful for photos. By contrast, Eastbourne faces south-east so the sun is behind the crowd for the last hour or two of flying. The crowdline was particularly long – one and a half miles between Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier – so it’s important to find the right spot. Crowd centre was at The Albany, a prominent block of flats on the clifftop above the beach.

It was great to be back on a beach watching aeroplanes. Let’s hope the air show scene is back to normal in 2022.

Bournemouth Air Festival 2021 – my photos

Radio frequencies

The following frequencies were in use:

Bournemouth Tower125.6
“Air Festival Bronze” and SAR assets
from Poole and Southbourne
156.0 (FM, Ch. 0)
160.6 (FM, Ch. 99)


The display line for the Bournemouth airshow is over water, running east-west, with the crowd facing south. The sun is in front of the crowd for the whole show. Crowd centre is below The Albany, a prominent white block of flats.