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Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Saturday, 21 August 2010 17:33 UK
What happens at an air show when the planes can't fly?
By Kevin O'Donovan
Bournemouth Air Festival

Four people on deckchairs on the beach
Thousands of people still visited the show - with their rain coats

Large events require a huge amount of planning but there is always one element that organisers are unable to arrange - the weather.

The Bournemouth Air Festival had to cancel most of its Friday and Saturday displays due to poor weather.

On Saturday, only a single Black Cat helicopter made a brief appearance.

Amid the drizzle, hundreds of umbrellas could be seen on the beach. People still seemed determined to make the best of it, despite the weather.

"You have to take what comes," said Mike Izzo, from Poole.

The Izzo family from Poole at the Bournemouth Air Festival 2010
The Izzo family from Poole: "The rain is a shame."

He was sitting on the beach with his parents enjoying a flask of coffee.

"This is England after all. But it's a shame for the organisers," he said.

Empathy for the team that spend nearly a year putting the festival together was a recurring theme among the wet beach-goers.

Denis Martin, from Southbourne, and with his wife Betty, said: "It's disappointing but we're going to make the best of it."

'Flat display'

In cloudy or wet conditions, air displays, when they are able to go ahead, are carried out on a 'flat display' basis - a simplified display carried out entirely beneath the cloud so the audience can see it.

On Friday at the festival, the cloud cover level was at 800ft (244m) and it needed to be no lower than 1,000ft (305m) for full displays.

A Black Cat helicopter at Bournemouth Air Festival
The only air display on the Saturday was a single Black Cat

But Saturday's weather was much worse.

Event director Jon Weaver said: "It's one of the most demanding situations to be in because of the ever-changing weather.

"It's a shame and it's disappointing but that's the situation."

First, the planned 1230 BST display for the Red Arrows was cancelled, and then a decision to cancel the rest of Saturday afternoon's displays was taken at 1445 BST.

Brings business

But Andrew Stoddart, the deputy manager of Queens Hotel in Bournemouth, believes that the air show still brings in people and business to the town, whatever the weather.

More than 140 pilots and air show guests have been staying at his hotel over the weekend.

Bournemouth beach
Bournemouth beach was packed - with umbrellas

He said: "The show is good for Bournemouth. Many hotels would be busy anyway because it's August, but occupancy is up all over [the town's hotels] and I think that is because of the air show."

Mr Stoddart said that the beach - full of umbrellas - would otherwise be empty on a wet Saturday afternoon in August.

The weather also made no difference to the 60-plus team looking after the show's security, keeping an eye on the two 1.5 mile (2.4km) stretches of Undercliff Drive and East Overcliff Drive.

James Wickington, from Spa security and events, said: "People are here to enjoy their day and we have to help them do that.

"So in that respect the weather doesn't make any difference."

With one day left of the air show, and a brighter outlook predicted, the thousands of visitors may still get to see displays such as the Red Arrows, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Avro Vulcan.

And if it rains? The Bournemouth Air Show is pencilled-in to return to the town for the next three years.

Weather affects air show displays
21 Aug 10 |  Dorset

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