29th – 31st May 2015
This year’s AeroExpo trade show was well attended on the Saturday due to fine if cool weather. Friday was mixed and Sunday wet and windy. The trade/spectator area had been reduced as a partner event, Heli UK Expo with a helicopter rodeo, had been added; highly relevant as Sywell is a major centre for helicopter operations.
This brought with it a number of changes. The CAA, rightly concerned about Health and Safety, prohibited any Press or public access to the visiting aircraft and insisted on pilots being shuttled to and from their aircraft. Hence, with tents and exhibits now crowded to within a few metres of the fenceline, all the spectators huddled five deep along the fence struggling to see the aircraft; the wind direction also meant visiting aircraft, one of the primary attractions, touched down in the far distance. Creating a remote spectator area near the threshold or opening up a corridor near the unused perimeter fence, would have released this pressure and allowed those visiting the many stands an opportunity to watch the demonstrations.
It was notable that the helicopter competition and its dedicated press team were unhindered, positioning themselves airside, right beside the close flying competitors.
For the large proportion of the paid visitors the day was rescued by the generous and well organised folk at LAAS international who used one shuttle bus to drive carefully around the visiting aircraft every 40 minutes or so for a donation. Although the organisers insisted that, as predominantly a trade event, spectators are of a low priority then the extra restrictions that came with the helicopter rodeo plus the excellent lunchtime flying display seem to be at variance with that explanation.
For those that attended on the fine Saturday around 500 light aircraft attended the event, ranging from the stunning new E-Go to a few Austers though it was noticeable how few 1950s and even 60s types were in evidence this year. The Cirrus gathering was well attended and particularly welcome was a flight of five Icelandic singles; probably the largest group ever to come to the UK from that Country. They were sensibly parked near the event enclosure along with the Cirrus group.