Shropshire Star

Welshpool Air Show future in doubt

The future of a popular air show hangs in the balance because of rising costs and a number of last-minute setbacks.

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Displays like this have been a feature at the air show over the years

Welshpool’s Bob Jones Memorial Air Show could be in jeopardy after organisers revealed it faced a number of challenges this year.

Setbacks included one of the top attractions, the De Havilland Sea Vixen, not making the show because it had been damaged in a crash a fortnight earlier.

Poor weather affected the number of people attending the event. The windy conditions also meant parachutists were also unable to perform.

Despite attracting more than 10,000 spectators in the past this year’s event – which took place on Sunday – saw about 2,500 visitors pass through the gates.

The event has become one of the biggest events in the region’s social calendar, traditionally piggybacking the Cosford Air Show and sharing a fly-past by the famous Red Arrows.

The air show has been held at Welshpool Airport for the past 10 years but was renamed in 2012 after Mr Jones, its founder and owner of Welshpool Airport, died in a plane crash.

Welshpool county councillor Graham Breeze said: “The show is organised by Welshpool Town Council in conjunction with Bob’s family and flying enthusiasts but costs of staging the event have soared since new legislation was imposed following the vintage jet crash at Shoreham Air Show back in 2015 which killed 11 people and seriously injured another 16.

“The event made a comfortable profit in 2015 after thousands were diverted from a packed Cosford Air Show to Welshpool but suffered losses in 2016 and despite cutting operating costs Sunday’s bad weather may mean organisers having to take a difficult decision about the future.

“Many air shows across the country have been scrapped because of health and safety and rising insurance costs and members of Welshpool Town Council will soon be asked if they wish to continue taking the risk of backing the event.

“Without the town council’s support and organising skills it is doubtful the show could continue but it surely shouldn’t keep flying at any cost to the town’s council tax payers.”

Town clerk and one of the event organisers Robert Robinson refused to confirm or deny whether the event’s future was in any doubt. He said: “I’m afraid I won’t be commenting on this, it’s still only hours after the event.”

“Sunday was difficult, we were up against a number of factors including the weather, and many people commented on how some things were at Cosford but not here but all that depends on how the weather is here. The weather at Cosford was different to the weather at the same time in Welshpool.

“Events like this are extremely difficult to organise, for an event organiser there is a tremendous amount of responsibility, as you have to factor in health and safety, and the weather on the day.

“Although we ended up without some attractions, including the De Havilland Sea Vixen, we organised a replacement in the form of a Bronco, and I think with under two weeks to go that takes some doing.

“As aircraft gets older too – that can play a part in how things run. Things aren’t the same as they get older.”