2010 Articles

MAR 09 2010
Dawlish Carnival Air Show - new website but uncertain future

Dawlish Carnival Air Show has grown from an annual performance by the Red Arrows in to one of the UK’s most popular seaside shows. Well known for its relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere, this free event is acclaimed by the general public, aviation enthusiasts and participants alike - something that few other shows can truly claim.

But it’s not just about big crowds and a superb location, both of which Dawlish can boast, for the event has also managed to attract some of the UK’s, some would say even the world’s best airshow performers, with regular support from the UK’s armed forces. Where else can you meet an RAF Merlin and its crew on a cliff top while a Search and Rescue Sea King performs a demonstration over the seafront? How about the renowned Royal Jordanian Falcons and their precision aerobatics? USAF KC-135 tanker, Hawker Hunter, King Air, Typhoon, Hawk.....Dawlish has seen them all thrill the crowds, 80,000 of whom attended in 2009 to see the world’s only airworthy Vulcan bomber perform with the Red Arrows for the first time in 17 years.

Not all of these acts are unique to the UK airshow scene and yes, some seaside shows are bigger, with longer flying programmes and held over more than one day. But Dawlish is different, it feels different. People make an annual pilgrimage to Dawlish from all the over the UK and beyond, just to be there for the latest Dawlish ‘moment’ and to enjoy it with the thousands of others stretched along this delightful piece of South Devon coastline.

And there’s one other thing that makes Dawlish ever so slightly different. This is an event run entirely by volunteers and one that relies solely on sponsorship to even exist from year to year. It is to Kevin Wills and his team’s huge credit that not only does it actually keep on going, but that he manages to attract such superb participation on a budget which in real terms is but a fraction of that available to comparable events.

But, and it is a notable but, the future of Dawlish Carnival Air Show is not looking especially rosy. Despite the huge annual attendance figures, donations collected at the event alone are not enough, and the event team’s only direct means of income from the show are these (gratefully received) donations and programme sales on the day. With the world only now emerging from recession, sponsorship will hopefully provide a means of securing the event’s long term future but at this stage it cannot of course be guaranteed and nothing has been confirmed.

“We need people to know that the future of Dawlish Carnival Air Show is far from secure,” says organiser Kevin Wills.

“Funding is required soon in order for the event to run this year on the same sort of scale we have seen in previous years. While we have been working extremely hard behind the scenes and with the local community, the launch of the new website seems like an ideal time to spread the net even further, especially to the aviation community which has supported us so well.”

The new website - www.dawlishairshow.co.uk – has been designed and built by GAR’s very own Karl Drage and is the only destination for official news on the 2010 show. The site includes more than just news on the latest participants (all being well) but also information on travelling to Dawlish, where to stay and local facilities. Reviews of previous shows have been linked from sites such as Fighter Control and UKAR, while the all important ways in which you can contribute to help secure the event’s future are naturally featured.

“We’ve put together some brand new packages for potential sponsors over recent months,” says Kevin.

“It was time to take a fresh look at the event from a sponsorship perspective and I think brands and companies might be interested to see some of the innovative ways in which they can promote themselves by associating with the event. We’ve deliberately scaled these packages to suit all budgets and are now in the process of discussing them with a number of locally based businesses.”

You can never do enough in the hunt for sponsorship however, and if any readers are interested in discussing sponsorship options for the event we would urge them to contact GAR and we can put them in touch with Kevin and his team direct.

The new site also includes an option to donate directly to Dawlish Carnival Air Show via PayPal and images from the show taken by GAR’s team of photographers are available for purchase as prints with all profits going directly to the event.

Action to secure additional funding has already been taken with the launch of ‘The Friends of the Dawlish Air Show’ programme in November last year. This aims to raise a total of £8000 towards the 2010 show by inviting members to pay £10 for an annual membership to the scheme. Members receive a limited edition badge (this year’s features the Red Arrows and Vulcan formation), a certificate of membership and advanced information concerning this year’s display. Four VIP tickets will also be drawn from the list of members, which is limited to a total of 1000.

"We already have teams and acts waiting to take part in the air show this year and even if the Friends scheme alone proves successful, it would help to secure Dawlish favourites like The Red Arrows and enable us to add new and exciting display teams for our 2010 event."

Dawlish, quite simply, is an event which must not be allowed to fade away. Few shows seem immune to the debate, rumour and criticism which sadly afflicts so many of our airshows in the UK, yet Dawlish is one of those events which seems to be held universally in the affections of everyone who visits and which for many is the highlight of their year. Dawlish has never been a huge commercial operation and has no intention of selling its heart and soul to the corporate world – but it is time for those who benefit from this fantastic event to step up to the plate. Whether you are a local business, a business in the region or whether you too have fallen for the Carnival Air Show like so many others – Dawlish needs you.

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2010-05-05 - Gareth Stringer

It's little early to say at the moment - keep your eyes on the official website and there is also a Facebook group for the show.



2010-04-30 - s smith
Will the Vulcan be at the 2010 show?

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