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Eyes skyward for Airbourne

Here’s a lifesaver if you’re flagging from entertaining kids this school hols and a fun day out even if you’re not. Best of all it’s free! Airbourne can be seen from right along the seafront at Eastbourne until Sunday with jet and parachute display teams, wing walkers and more dropping in (quite literally in the case of the parachutists!)

I took to my nephews to the opening day on Thurs and we were there for hours, with the air action starting at lunchtime.

The boys particularly loved it when two of the Blades formation team cut their engines to freefall before picking them up and looping off. They also liked comparing the aircraft speeds Top Trumps-style in the programme.

The highlight for me were the Aerosuperbatics wing walkers – crazy women on loop-the-looping bi-planes who put my heart in my mouth (and no doubt flies in their teeth) as they flew upside down and performed one-handed routines. (Take some binos for the best view of these guys).

The Tigers parachute team battled strong winds to land in the sea billowing smoke flares and in one case a union jack. it was fun to spot them cleaning up their parachutes later with a dunk in a huge wheelie bin of water then some kite-like drying off on the beach.

The displays started from around 14.00 on Thurs but the times vary day to day with more packed into the Sat and Sun.

We arrived early and managed to fill three hours before the show started browsing around and having lunch. There are fairground style stalls, giant inflatables and bungee trampolining and zorbing on the seafront and more military and aviation displays on the lawns, all open from 10am daily.

My tip is to get in early for the stuff on the lawns to avoid queuing as there are good activities here like a chance to sit in a helicopter cockpit and try virtual reality headsets and a lot of things are free. There are also several simulator experiences around the event for £5 a go (though strangely the boys ended up more obsessed with the tombola!)

Once the displays start, the pacing of the day is great. You and yours won’t get bored with different stunt teams almost seamlessly following on from each other. In fact it’s best to plan your loo breaks around your must-sees. It’s easy to catch the action from anywhere on or above the beach west of the pier up to the Western Lawns so you don’t have to be jammed into a crowd, though the area nearer the lawns means you get some of the stunts and the parachute landings right in front of you.

Getting into town might take a bit more planning. The central car parks will fill up quickly so do check the Airbourne website for the best advice. We arrived easily by train, though note, a queuing system will be in place at the station after the displays on Sat and Sun. Hang around for movies on the beach to avoid the worst of the exodus.

The Battle of Britain tribute flights are sadly off at the time of writing due to technical and weather problems and heli pleasure flights from Beachy Head have also been suspended due to the wind but there’s plenty more to see.

When the aerial displays end the stalls etc are still open and you can still settle down to some family-friendly movies on the beach (Peter Rabbit on Fri, The Lego Movie 2 on Sat and Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again on Sun. On Sunday night the fun concludes with more action in the sky  – this time in the form of a firework finale from 20.20.

Find more ideas here

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