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Dawlish Airshow takes off right over the beach

Take your seats on Dawlish Beach and enjoy a grandstand view of some fantastic displays by the RAF, skydiving and helicopters at the Dawlish Airshow.
Take your seats on Dawlish Beach and enjoy a grandstand view of some fantastic displays by the RAF, skydiving and helicopters at the Dawlish Airshow. The event has now permanently moved to August and takes place on the Friday and Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend. The main airshow event is on the Saturday with a Family Fun Day on the Friday.

Dawlish Airshow puts on a dazzling display of airborne displays and activities, and is probably the only festival where you can sit on the gorgeous beach paddling your feet in the sea while having a grandstand view of the event. If you do decide to stir from your deckchair, there are plenty of stands, attractions and entertainment all along the seafront.

Kids have fun at the Dawlish Airshow

I found there are plenty of fun things to tempt you to explore, such as the static Gazelle helicopters on show at Dawlish Warren. Youngsters get the chance to sit at the controls and enthusiastic would-be pilots can chat with the crew and learn about the glamourous and not-so-glamourous life of being an RAF pilot.

As mentioned earlier, the main flying events take place on the Saturday. One of the most popular attractions is the display by the based at RAF Coningsby – you can’t miss it with all the noise that accompanies one of the latest and most sophisticated jets when it is flying across the bay.

Red Arrows Display Team visit Devon

The are always the centre of attention as they swoop and soar in formation with patriotic red, white and blue smoke streaming out the back.

In 2014 ground attractions on both days include stands supporting the RAF benevolent fund, a Falconry display, BMX Skills and the chance to look inside a real Hawker Hunter cockpit. For kids there’s a bouncy castle, Zumba, bungee trampolines, fairground rides and more.

As luck would have it, the is touring the UK and will bring along its Avro Lancaster, nicknamed Vera. It will perform alongside the only other airworthy Lancaster in the world as part of the Royal Air Force’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight so it’s a unique 2-for-1 experience for Lancaster fans.

At some point during the Air Show the will demonstrate their skill and accuracy by parachuting into Dawlish Warren – crowds permitting!

Other demonstrations include air-sea rescues in the bay using helicopters and the local RNLI lifeboat. A volunteer is winched from the boat to the Royal Navy Rescue helicopter. He is then lowered back down and is picked up again by the moving lifeboat, an all-too-real scenario at times for these brave crews.

Where to park and view the Dawlish Airshow

Some of the best views of the Dawlish Air Show RAF displays are from the coastal path. Parking is well-signposted on Warren Road and there is space for 500 vehicles (but get there early!).

There is access to the coastal footpath which gives perfect views of all the aerial displays as well as seeing the RAF Sea King helicopters etc. arriving in preparation for the event. The atmosphere is always buzzing with excitement, so bring a rug, chairs and a picnic and settle in for the day’s viewing. There is a charge for parking, but it is all donated to the Air Show to offset the expenses.

If you have youngsters, you may prefer to park at Dawlish Warren where there is more car parking and easy access onto the beach. Better still, arrive by train as the station is right on the seafront.

In my opinion, Dawlish Air Show is one of the most exciting free events in Devon – would you agree? Please give us your feedback if you have attended this, or any other airshow in the UK. We’d love to hear your opinion!

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.


  1. Josh G says:

    I most certainly agree. For these brave people to take time out of their busy schedule to come and entertain is simply marvellous. I go every year and they still manage to impress me more each time. I enjoy watching the acted out rescues, they seem so real! The speed and precision of the whole team is important in such rescues and they perform it flawlessly, and in front of a crowd of hundreds of people!

  2. Zaiva says:

    First of all, I would just like to say the image used of the Red Arrows plane in the article is phenomenal.

    To say this is a FREE air show is pretty awesome! It’s a perfect location to have it, especially on a hot summers day. I’ve visited the Waddington Air show in Lincoln four times now, over the past 5 years, and if my memory serves me correctly, it was around £20 per person to get in. Worth every penny though I must say, as the Red Arrows alone were amazing, and I would happily go again next year.

    It’s not just a day for the aircraft fanatic, but something all the family will enjoy. That’s if it’s anything like Waddington of course, and there’s no doubt in my mind it will be, if not better! If you’re down in Devon when it’s on, or thinking of travelling down there to see it, do it, you won’t be disappointed. Very noisy and fun day!
    Zaiva recently posted: Astronaut Sunita WilliamsMy Profile

    • Wendy Tomlinson says:

      I totally agree with the comment made by Zaiva, the photo of the single Red Arrow is phenomenal. They are simply breath-taking to watch. As always you’ve provided really useful information, thank you.

  3. John Perth says:

    Like Doctors, these RAF pilots spend over a decade before they can go out on active duty. The agility in those Sea Kings is such a joy to watch. Not many people would agree with me but these little beauties stand out from the air show as, whenever I watch them, I could just imagine a small team of special forces soldiers pushing the Sea King to its limit as they have to avoid enemies from above and below. As a result of the operatives being dropped in some of the harshest conditions in the natural world… behind enemy lines, there’s a huge demand and a huge burden on these helis to respond to commands as quickly and swiftly as its rotors can spin.

    Why is this show free? The couple that I’ve been to in Essex have an admission charge which is understandable as they deserve a little something for putting their safety at risk.

    • Gillian says:

      I’m guessing that the air shows are sponsored by Dawlish, for example, as part of their tourism budget. Someone has to pay for all that fuel!

  4. Gillian says:

    When I was updating this article for 2014, I discovered that the Dawlish Airshow Committee spend all year raising funds to put on the airshow, so huge kudos and thanks to them. They deserve a big cheer and an even bigger crowd than last year!

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