Stunning airborne success

Stunning airborne success

14 August 2013

OVER 100,000 people attended the Festival of Flight in Newcastle on Saturday making it the largest event ever held in Down District.

People travelled from all over Ireland for the event which also attracted many international tourists who were in Northern Ireland last week and decided to visit Newcastle for the spectacle.

Throughout the two hour display of aircraft the town’s main promenades were packed with spectators and there were also large numbers of people watching from the dunes at Murlough Nature Reserve and from the foothills of the Mournes.

Down Council chairwoman, Maria McCarthy, described the Festival of Flight as a “fantastic” showcase for the district.

Speaking at a meeting of Down Council on Monday evening, Ms. McCarthy said she was delighted to see 100,000 people in Newcastle at the weekend enjoying the show and spending money in local shops.

“It was fantastic to show visitors in Down what we have to offer,” she said, adding that she hoped many would return.

“Many sponsors said how wonderful the council was to work with.”

The addition of an aviation village in Donard Park extended the Festival and provided additional attractions and activities for visitors to take part in from 10am.

A full size replica of the Typhoon fighter was the highlight of the village attractions and led to lengthy queues as people waited to see the inside of the cockpit of one of the world’s most modern fighters.

There were also displays and stands from many other organisations, including the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team, Air Cadets and the Ulster Military Vehicle Club which had a number of restored vehicles on display.

Fields were provided on the main routes into Newcastle in a bid to ease the congestion in the town. However, the one down side to the day was the enthusiasm with which traffic wardens issued tickets to those drivers who chose to park in the resort.

Scores of tickets were issued to unsuspecting motorists who parked in areas where parking at special events has never before attracted penalty, such as South Promenade and Bryansford Avenue.

The emergency services reported a quiet day with the only problems coming from a handful of drunken revellers.

Just after the display ended members of the South Down Coastguard team had to battle heavy traffic getting to an incident in Dundrum involving a kayaker who capsized at the entrance to the inner bay. He was rescued by a passing fisherman.