IT was never going to be the Clacton Airshow we have all come to cherish and love, but today's soaring aviation extravaganza proved a fitting replacement.

The Clacton 150th Anniversary Flights saw aerial displays from the ever-exciting Red Arrows, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and two US Air Force F-15 Strike Eagles.

Swooping over the seafront from 2.30pm, the variety of impressive planes, including a Spitfire and a Hurricane, saw day-trippers and locals alike gaze giddily skywards.

Although a much more scaled down affair than the usual Clacton Airshow, which attracts more than 100,000 people each year, large crowds flocked the promenade.

Halstead Gazette:

Instead of flight-fans descending on the town’s West Greensward, as many as 75,000 onlookers spread right along Clacton’s coastline, including on the beaches and park areas.

Like in 2020, the Airshow as we know it had to be cancelled this summer due to the uncertainty around the pandemic and when large events would again be permitted.

Despite this year’s condensed programme aviation fanatics, such as Reece Wookey, 20, of Clacton, thoroughly enjoyed the displays on offer yesterday.

He said: "It has been a while since we have seen planes in the sky and this year is even more special because the Red Arrows are back for the first time since 2018.

"The planes bring a joy to me and everyone here because of how they display differently and manoeuvre differently and it is just an honour to see it.

"We should all feel lucky to see some sort of enjoyment with planes after the last year and a half."

Halstead Gazette:

Seven-year-old Red Arrows obsessive Joshua Woodward, whose “first word was aeroplane," also enjoyed the afternoon.

The Colchester boy said: “The Red Arrows are my favourite because they do cool things in the sky and if it’s Valentine’s Day they do a love heart.

“I have seen them before and they were fantastic and I would like to be a Red Arrow pilot one day.

“I love planes and to fly in a Red Arrow plane would be cool.”

Thomas Cousins, 70, who retired to Clacton two years ago, has been infatuated with aircrafts for as long he can remember and his uncle worked on the HMS Illustrious aircraft carrier.

He said: “I have had a long fascination with aeroplanes and I have just always loved them.

“The Spitfire and the Lancaster Bomber are the best aircrafts in the world because they won the Battle of Britain.

“I was disappointed it was not the usual Airshow, as I have never seen the Airshow before but in 2019 the Lancaster Bomber actually flew over my bungalow.

"I even ran from the back garden to the front garden to see it go right over our house - I could not believe it."

Halstead Gazette:

Clacton resident Dawn, 55, attended the fly-past wearing the Red Arrows t-shirt of her late partner, who died 10 months ago.

She said: “I used to always come to the Clacton Airshow with my late partner because every single year it is just a brilliant event.

“The planes and the Red Arrows are absolutely lovely and I just love planes in general - they’re amazing.”

Speaking after the anniversary flights concluded Alex Porter, Tendring councillor responsible for leisure and tourism, was pleased with how the day had gone.

“It was a real delight to watch these incredible aircraft grace the skies above our town,” he said.

Halstead Gazette:

“The speed and sound of the F-15s matched with the slow majesty of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the incredible manoeuvrability of the Red Arrows’ display made for a thrilling spectacle which was enjoyed by all those who came to watch.

“This is a fitting way to mark Clacton’s 150th birthday and I hope people will come back tomorrow for day two.

"My thanks go to everyone who came along for spreading right out along our seafront and creating such an enjoyable atmosphere today.”

Tomorrow's Clacton 150th Anniversary Flights will kick-off with the Red Arrows from 12.45pm.