My interest in historic events, nature and wildlife is reflected in our choice of destinations when planning our holidays and day trips.
Spectacular Hot Air Balloon and Helicopter Air Displays
I like air displays, and I love the more unusual, so this article mainly focuses on several helicopters and hot-air balloon events and displays which I've visited, filmed and photographed while on holiday and day trips in Britain and France.
Weston-Super-Mare Helicopter Displays
While on a day trip to Weston-Super-Mare I had the golden opportunity to film at the largest helicopter museum in the world during one of their helicopter displays; and earlier in the day, great filming opportunities of the helicopter displays on show just above the beach at Weston,
Bristol Hot Air Balloons
During the annual balloon event in Bristol the hot air balloons viewable from just above the famous Clifton suspension bridge built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and
The Coast of La Laguna, France, Air Sea Rescue Exercises
While on holiday in France, we had the pleasure of witnessing one of the air sea exercises by the French Gendamerie; a chance filming, and very impressive to watch, as they practiced in raising and lowering a person from boat to helicopter and back again, several times over.
Aircraft Gifts on Amazon
Our Day Out in Bristol to See the Balloons
Living in Bristol I didn’t have far to travel. The day started with an early morning visit in Clifton just above the Clifton Suspension Bridge, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel over 150 years ago. From this vantage point, as shown in the photo below, we had our first glimpse of balloons rising in the air and drifting over the city of Bristol visible on the horizon.
Later that morning we made our way to the event, passing deer feeding in the park and stopping to watch them for a while before settling down for a fabulous day of air events; as shown in the video below.
Hot Air Balloons Over Clifton Suspension Bridge
At dawn one August in Bristol, on the day when the sky was packed with hot air balloons, we settled ourselves down to an advantage point just above Clifton Suspension Bridge (built by the famous Victorian engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel) which overlooks the city of Bristol. From here we could see and film the early rising procession of hot air balloons as they made the assent over the city.
Later in the day we made our way to the main air display event itself in Bristol to film all the other activities of the day. Unfortunately being high winds in the upper atmosphere few hot air balloons attempted flight but the crowds were not to be disappointed as a show of other air display events were held throughout the day; including the appearance of a spitfire that made several display circuits around the open air arena before disappearing into the distance.
Model Planes, Skydiving and Acrobatics
At the Bristol Air Display
Air events at Bristol which we had the pleasure to watch and film and which made a spectacular day out for the whole family. Then during the evening, the night glow as the hot air balloons are light up.
Bristol Night Glow
Bristol Annual Air Show
Five Helicopters Landing in Formation
The Weston-Super-Mare Helicopter Museum
There may be larger museums dedicated to aviation but in Weston-Super-Mare is the largest helicopter museum in the world, an all-weather attraction under cover in big warehouses. So on visiting Weston-Super-Mare if the weather isn't kind and you have an interest in aircraft then this place is worthy of seeking out as a place to spend a few hours.
On the day we visited the museum at Weston we were honoured with the privilege of standing just inside the hanger doors to witness close up this spectacular display, lasting about ten minutes, of five helicopters coming into land in formation; another golden opportunity to get the camera out and film a spectacular event.
A couple of years earlier to filming this One of our many trips to Weston-Super-Mare coincided with the Weston-Super-Mare Helicopter Museum putting on a grand display of helicopters on the shoreline just above the beach; a magnificent display of helicopters as shown at the beginning of the short video clip below. The rest of the video gives a brief glimpse of Weston-Super-Mare itself and its famous beach. Below are the photo showcases of the display and of this fantastic tourist resort South West England.
As is usual on our visits the tide at Weston out, so after viewing the helicopters on display we made our way to the pier and then walked further along to find a nice seafront restaurant for a late afternoon meal; before finally making our way back to Bristol, just an hour's drive away.
Weston-Super-Mare Helicopter Display Just Above the Beach
Weston-Super-Mare and Helicopter Museum, England
French Gendarmerie Air Sea Exercises
La Laguna Beach, Southern France
While on holiday in southern France and sun bathing on the beach at La Laguna we had the rare privilege of seeing the French Gendarmerie running a series of Air Sea exercises. Giving me a golden opportunity to get my camera out and film them in action; a chance opportunity you don’t see every day, shown in this short video clip below.
La Laguna Beach, France
Headcorn Air Show, Ashford, Kent, England
A more recent event we attended was the annual Headcorn Air Show in Kent; which takes place over the weekend.
For the relaxing two days we attended it was a great event. The air isn’t buzzing with lots of flybys, as you will get at the bigger events, but you still had the opportunity to see the red arrows and other memorable planes.
To make the best of your visit its best to go as a group or family, take folding chairs, food and drink with you and arrive early. Then make your way to the perimeter fence and find a spot where you can set up your chairs before exploring all the stalls and ground events in the small arena. When wondering off to explore it’s a good idea to take it in turn leaving at least one person to look after the seating and any personal property e.g. to keep your space and so that you don’t have to lug everything around with you.
Headcorn Air Show
Throughout the day mini battles with model planes was always spectacular to watch, as this video which I made of the event shows.
Mock Air Raid With Model Remote Control Aircraft
Towards the end of the second day we were there a number of old bi and tri planes came into land and put on a spectacular display. These old planes are not particularly stable when landing, as shown in this short video clip.
Bi Plane Tips up on Wing
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Arthur Russ
Your say on air displays - Up in the Air
Arthur Russ (author) from England on June 14, 2017:
Thanks for your feedback, and thanks for the link Paul; we're always looking for new places to put on our list of potential places to visit. We have a few places lined up this year in South Wales; and hopefully I'd like to visit the Eden Project next year. But yes, the Shuttleworth Trust in Old Warden, Bedfordshire is the sort of thing that appeals to us; so I think Bedfordshire will be one of our target destinations in a couple years.
Paul from Liverpool, England on February 20, 2013:
You'd probably like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuttleworth_Trust in Old Warden. Great pub in the village as well :)
anonymous on November 04, 2012:
Air display will always take my breath away, Maybe because I seem to hold my breath so much of the time!