THE Red Arrows will not be appearing in Lyme Regis next summer.
The RAF’s crack aerobatic team appeared in Lyme for more than 40 years – except in bad weather – until last year when the date requested by local organisers coincided with an engineering day, which prevented the Arrows from continuing their long relationship with the town.
It was hoped that Lyme would have been included on the Arrows’ summer programme for 2019 but RAF Events have informed the town that the team will be spending several weeks in the United States next summer, which will take priority over non-airshow appearances.
The Red Arrows, first brought to the town by Philip Evans MBE in the early 1970s as part of the Regatta & Carnival festivities, went on to appear free of charge for four decades as the main attraction for the town’s Lifeboat Week.
But when Ministry of Defence rules changed and a charge was made for a visit by the Red Arrows, Lifeboat Week organisers did not feel they could commit charity funds to the cost of an appearance.
In a bid to maintain the long association between Lyme and the Red Arrows, Mr Evans formed a Lyme Regis Red Arrows 100 Club to raise the money, with generous financial support from Lyme Bay Holidays, and secured two further displays in 2016 and 2017.
On the day it was hoped that Red Arrows would appear in Lyme this year, the town council co-ordinated ‘I Love Lyme Day’, which was considered to be a success and attracted a reasonably large crowd but not as big at the Red Arrows.
The day included an appearance by the RAF’s freefall parachute team, The Falcons, and The Flying Circus wing walkers, arranged by Mr Evans and again supported financially by Lyme Bay Holidays.
Mr Evans commented: “Although more low key than Red Arrows Day, it was an enjoyable day with full support from the town council staff.
“We applied for a visit by the Red Arrows for August 2019 by the end of September, the closing date, but it has since been announced that the Arrows will be in the United States for the whole of August and we received a call from RAF events this week informing us of this.
“There is also talk of the Red Arrows not appearing at their usual events as a matter of course so regretfully it might be several years before we see them in the skies over Lyme again.”