The Scottish Airshow made a welcome return in 2014 following a 22 year absence, and attendance over the weekend doubled on last year with more than 120,000 visitors casting their eyes across an impressive range of aircraft and waving a fond farewell to the Vulcan that now goes into retirement.

What you might be surprised to hear is that the event was created entirely by a small group of volunteers, including past and present NATS employees, with current NATS employee Bob Alexander acting as committee Chairman. The air display on Saturday was managed by the Display Director Mike Wood, an ex-RAF Wing Commander so no stranger to the military planes on show that included the Typhoon and the Avro Vulcan XH558.

All local air traffic control movements were conducted by the Tower at Prestwick Airport. Normally it manages daily passenger flights and cargo but over this past weekend they also co-ordinated the movements of the Red Arrows, the Merlin Helicopter Team and many more aircraft visiting from across the world.

Managing the weekend’s activities with the military is familiar territory for NATS as both civil and military controllers work alongside one another at the Swanwick Control Centre. This team worked closely with the controllers at the NATS Prestwick Centre to move the air traffic safely and efficiently through UK airspace.

The event itself is based on a simple format of entertainment, education and enterprise, whilst raising money for its official charity RAFA and providing the opportunity for those in the aviation industry to strengthen relationships. Last year the Scottish economy benefited by nearly £3million and almost £34,000 was collected in donations for local charities.

For enthusiasts there was much more than just aircraft to see as the interactive exhibition included cars, motorbikes and drones; and the Royal Navy provided ships and a Special Boat Service role beach landing demonstration. A good time was had by all those involved, whether they were attending as a spectator or working as a participant.

Images kindly provided by South Ayrshire Council with copyright to


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Doug Maclean

Fantastic show but help very much needed


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