Published: 19:00, 15 March 2015
The world-famous Red Arrows will take to the skies above Herne Bay this summer as part of what has been billed Kent's number one coastal airshow.
As many as 50,000 people are expected to flock to the town for the event, with the popular RAF display team now set to take star billing after their appearance was confirmed today.
They will join an already-impressive line-up put together by organisers The Bay Promo Team, which raised £13,000 to secure their visit on Saturday, August 15.
Also appearing at the Amy Johnson Memorial Airshow will be a 10-strong Great War Display Team, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lancaster Bomber, Spitfire, Hurricane, De Havilland Vampire and a flypast by Tracey Curtis-Taylor.
The Bay Promo Team launched an appeal to raise money to pay for the Red Arrows’ appearance but faced a nail-biting wait to see if their application – one of hundreds received by the RAF each year – would be approved.
Confirmation was received from RAF bosses today.
The team’s Gerald McCarthy said: “We're absolutely delighted that we've managed to secure the Red Arrows for Herne Bay.
“The display team receives up to 800 applications each year from all over the UK and Europe, so to have them display along the Herne Bay coast this summer will be an historic first for the town.
“We felt the addition of Jane Priston to the air display organising team, with her Amy Johnson project links, helped get the attention of RAF officials when deciding on display locations in 2015.”
The event will commemorate record-breaking pilot Amy Johnson, whose plane crashed off the coast of Herne Bay in 1941.
Mrs Priston has spent seven years researching Miss Johnson’s story and hopes it will inspire others to follow their dreams.
Businesses and individuals from the town rallied round to raise almost the £13,000 for the Red Arrows display, while proceeds from the Bay Promo Team’s Sci-fi and music events will help fund other parts of the day.
There is still time to get involved and sponsor the event.
Mr McCarthy said: “It's fitting that Amy Johnson will get such a big event staged in her memory.
“With Folkestone being unable to stage an airshow this year, eyes will be on Herne Bay skies as Herne Bay stages Kent's primary coastal air event - a great advertisement for the town.
“A big thanks to all of the businesses and people from the community that helped make the application possible.
“I've said before we have an enviable community spirit, and the town has demonstrated this once again.”
Mr McCarthy says the team is still looking for sponsors and funding for the event to help bring additional aircraft and attractions to Herne Bay.
He said: “We'd urge interested local businesses to get in touch.
“After all, the chance to sponsor the Red Arrows event right here in the town won't come around very often.”
"What a fantastic opportunity this day will bring for people that have never visited Herne Bay before..." - co-organiser Gerald McCarthy
The team are planning attractions on the ground as well, including flight simulators, static aircraft displays and other entertainment.
And Mr McCarthy urged people to leave their cars at home for the day to avoid missing out.
He added: “Our aim has always been to promote the town, and what a fantastic opportunity this day will bring for people that have never visited Herne Bay before.
"It's a great investment in future tourism here.
“It's by far the pinnacle of what a few friends passionate about Herne Bay have been able to do for the town, and I'm not sure we'll be able to surpass this.
“It's a huge event for a relatively small town, so our message for residents and visitors will be clear – leave the car at home.
“There are regular public transport links both by train and bus to Herne Bay that will take them to the doorstep of this event on a mid-August Saturday, and those ignoring this advice might just get stuck in traffic, missing something you might not see in Herne Bay for some time to come.”