The world’s oldest independent air force marks its centenary this year with a campaign based on commemorating, celebrating and inspiring – all of which will be to the fore at the two-day Air Waves event in Portrush on September 1-2.
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s signature event provides an important showcase opportunity which reflects the pivotal role which the region has played in the RAF’s 100 year history.
During the Second World War RAF bases were established at Limavady and Ballykelly and proved vital to victory during the Battle of the Atlantic.
Almost 12,000 men and women from Northern Ireland volunteered to serve in the RAF during the war, with over 1,000 losing their lives.
One of these was Wing Commander Anthony Desmond Joseph Lovell, who is buried at Ballywillan Cemetery in Portrush.
Born in British Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) on August 9, 1919, Anthony grew up in Portrush.
A devout Roman Catholic, he joined the RAF in 1938 and trained as a pilot before being posted to No 41 Squadron at Catterick to fly Spitfires. Over Dunkirk In May 1940 he achieved his first victory when he shot down a German Heinkel bomber.
During the Battle of Britain Lovell was shot down twice, on the first occasion by Luftwaffe ace Major Werner Molders. He survived without serious injury and went on to achieve ‘ace’ status himself. By the end of war he was credited with 22 aerial victories.
Lovell was appointed to lead the No 244 (Malta) Spitfire Wing, and was at the helm during the invasion of Italy and the south of France. He returned to the UK as a flight instructor to the School of Air Support at Old Sarum. He was killed on August 17, 1945, when his Spitfire crashed while doing acrobatics.
A Battle of Britain Memorial Flight featuring the Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire aircrafts will be one of the flying highlights of Air Waves Portrush – helping to bring Lovell’s war time experience to life in the skies over East Strand.
The flying programme will also celebrate the RAF’s enduring prowess, including an appearance by the Red Arrows who are set to thrill the crowds with their signature speed, agility and precision.
Visitors to Air Waves Portrush can also look forward to a debut performance from the vintage Swiss Classic Formation featuring the Beech 18 and DC-3 aircraft alongside appearances from the Global Stars aerobatic team, the Catalina sea plane, the Sea Fury and the Calidus Autogyro with more announcements still to come.
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