Aerobility will be bringing previously unseen action from airshow favourites the Red Arrows and The Blades into front rooms across the globe with the very first Armchair Airshow, taking place on Saturday June 20.
The UK charity, which offers disabled people the opportunity to fly an aeroplane, has devised a packed programme for the virtual event which will be livestreamed on the Aerobility YouTube channel from 2pm to 6pm BST.
Mike Miller-Smith, chief executive of Aerobility, explained how the event came into being: “Like all good ideas it came as a bit of inspiration. We did some early trials, when the lockdown began to do some outreach programmes talking to pilots live as a live stream through our website, through our YouTube channel.”
The programmes were well received, so the charity decided to take the idea further. Miller-Smith added: “I think what everybody does is create community using aviation as a support network for people with disabilities. And obviously we’ve previously done that at the airfield, in the classroom, and our flying sites where we operate around the UK, but actually to take that into people’s homes is a real challenge.”
Crazy times call for a new approach to a big event
“So we thought what can we do is a big event with a new way of delivery through these slightly crazy times to actually take aviation into people’s living rooms. We’re really lucky to have some great friends and supporters from the industry, particularly the display and air show industry. So we made a few calls, we found a few pilots were up for helping us out.”
Mike Ling is the longest serving pilot with the Red Arrows and is now a member of The Blades display team. He said putting together previously unseen footage of the airshow will be different from the usual challenge of flying a Hawk.
“We’re doing as much as we can live, which is going to be the most challenging part. Obviously, we’re not all technical wizards. So trying to do it over the internet, with the footage we’ve been given and the footage I’ve got access to is going to be quite a challenge. But some everyone likes challenge and it’s going to be hopefully a fantastic afternoon for the whole family.”
A pilot’s eye view
Mike Ling said the Armchair Airshow will give enthusiasts a different perspective – the opportunity to gain a pilot’s eye view of the action. “When you go to an airshow you see the airplanes you hear the commentator, you don’t actually get to hear from the pilot necessarily about what the ins and outs of that display have been, how he’s put the display together what the real performance of the airplane is like. So that’s what we’ve got in the lounge area. We’ve got lots of pilots who are willing to come and talk through their displays give us a running commentary of what you see in cockpit footage, footage that hasn’t been aired and we’re very privileged to him given access to it.”
Unseen footage and cockpit views
The show will feature previously unseen footage and interviews with the Red Arrows, The Blades and US Air Force along with commentary and in-cockpit views. One of the highlights of the airshow which has just been announced is an interview with a space shuttle commander together with footage from NASA.
Miller-Smith said that despite tough times for the aviation industry, the event has been well received and was an example of the flying community supporting each other as well as supporting disabled people. “It’s a shout out together to actually do something so positive together, it has been really touching,” he said.