Arguably one of Europe’s finest free aviation festivals, the Jersey Air Show has continued to attract and delight tens of thousands of Islanders since its debut some 64 years ago. Additionally it’s now become an extremely popular island event with visitors from all over Europe. They head to our shores to watch modern and vintage military and civilian international aircrafts flying in from countries such as Belgium, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
How the air display began
The skies above Jersey have enjoyed an annual air display since 1952 when the event was known as the Battle of Britain Air Display. Today it remains an iconic commemoration of the three-month air battle fought between Germany and Britain in the first year of the Second World War.
Beginning on 7 September 1940, British cities and strategic defences were specifically targeted by the German Luftwaffe which had been commanded by Hitler to destroy The Royal Air Force. Despite heavy bombing raids which saw horrific loss of life, the British morale had not been broken and so the most the most concentrated large scale aerial battle over London took place on 15 September 1940. There were over 1,500 planes in the skies that night fighting fiercely and, at dawn, the RAF Fighter Command defeated the German attackers. Today we remember this week as Battle of Britain Week.
Many historians view this victory as a key turning point in the Allies’ favour and it gave rise to Sir Winston Churchill’s famous quote: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
With the exception of 1954, the air display has been held every September since 1951. The event was renamed The Jersey International Air Display in 1997 to welcome more worldwide involvement, and it now features international aircraft as well as traditional RAF planes.
Beautiful Spectator Location
Each year, the organising team of the Jersey air show always strives to incorporate something different. They focus their efforts on both the breath taking choreography that takes place in the skies or on the two major static displays where you can get up close and personal to the aircraft and perhaps have a chat with some of the pilots and crew.
The curved stretch of St. Aubin’s Bay, an impressive natural amphitheatre with the historic Elizabeth Castle set in the backdrop, is the stage for the display itself and there are a number of key vantage points in this area to watch the afternoon’s air show.
Pilots and aircraft
Traditional highlights include Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft forming a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight to then be joined by daring acrobatic aerial teams such as the RAF Tucano Display Team and wing walking teams such as Aerosuperbatics. The ever-favourite Royal Air Force Red Arrows always finish the afternoon with a dazzling display leaving their famous red, white and blue smoke trailing in the sky.
Any profits from this Jersey Air Show are donated in support of British Services charities.
Visit the official website for more information about this year’s air display.