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Manston air show had its problems, but is this the way forward?

More people went to Manston than on any day for years. There were lots of businesses, big and small, from near and far, out there making money.   

With a bit of practice, they could probably manage to get the traffic management more or less right. Manston could become the new Kent County showground. They have the space to run massive open air shows. Perhaps if they started with boot fairs, and then gradually scaled up…


Thousands of people were unable to get into Manston Airport and were
only able to view the aircraft from their cars as they waited in
traffic on surrounding roads.

Organisers of the South East Air Show in Kent
have been criticised after thousands of people trying to reach it were
stuck in long queues of traffic. It was the first time in 20 years that Manston Airport had
hosted the event but many motorists said they had to turn round and
return home on Saturday.

Nine-mile tailbacks on Thanet Way meant journeys took more than four hours. Organiser Chris Yates said the air show was more popular than expected and the road infrastructure could not cope: 

“An awful lot of people [were] trying to come down some very
small roads that come into Manston Airport – a classic dual carriageway
two-into-one scenario.”

John Turp, who took four hours to travel from the Monkton
roundabout to the airport – a distance of two miles – said it had to be
“one of the most shambolic events ever staged. The day was ruined for tens of thousands of people by the inept organisation.”

Others trying to get to the air show vented their anger on social media websites.

Paul Blair said he left Maidstone at 09:40 BST and did not arrive at the airport until 16:20:

“The stewards organising the event parking didn’t have a clue
and were turning people around and sending them back the other way. A complete waste of time and money and I had one very disappointed and upset little boy who missed it all.”

The event featured a display of aircraft, old and new, from the last Vulcan bomber still flying to the Apache helicopter. Mr Yates said initial news that it would be one of the last
flights of the Vulcan had attracted a lot of people to the show, but
this was not now the case as it had since been announced that it would
be around for two more years.

He added that lessons would be learned from the issues and there would be “plenty to debrief on”.

“We’ll learn about the car parks and we’ll learn about the timings of peoples’ arrival and bigger car parks,” he said.

In a statement on Sunday, Heritage Events apologised to people who experienced long delays and were unable to attend the event.

“We would ask for people to email their views and their personal experiences to enquiry@heritage-events.co.uk so we can respond appropriately to each person individually.”

BBC 23rd Jun 2013

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  1. Kent Resident

    It was a big let down and a waste of a day, waiting in queues for hours to never arrive and get in. But from what I heard about the actual event costing 15 per person to get in that Saturday and only a few aircraft in flight or on the ground for that matter, the rest of the event taken up by traders and funfair, I am relieved in a way that I saved my entry money, although the petrol took it’s toll. It was a big money making event though for Heritage Events !I am left thinking it would have been much better if the Air Show was still held on the Cliftonville seafront, where it had many successful years. There were no problems with traffic jams or parking and there was a much fuller schedule, including the Red Arrows also. A much better organised event with proper advertising in advance. There were free buses to the event from Margate Station and it was free to watch which was brilliant. A funfair and traders stalls for those that wanted it. Thousands of people lined the cliff-tops and enjoyed a fantastic 2 day show. This is what Thanet needs.When it was previously held at Manston, there were similar queues and traffic jams to cope with as last Saturday and that is why it was announced afterwards that it couldn’t be held there again. But after years of campaigning for it, the Air Show was brought to Cliftonville at Palm Bay. Lets bring it back to Cliftonville and re-learn the lessons we learnt 20 years ago.