Blackpool secures UK's first Aero GP

Blackpool has been chosen to host the UK's first ever aerial grand prix. The race -- called Aero GP -- will see eight planes simultaneously flying at more than 300mph, just yards above sea level around a marked course. Lasting about 10 minutes...

Blackpool has been chosen to host the UK's first ever aerial grand prix.

The race -- called Aero GP -- will see eight planes simultaneously flying at more than 300mph, just yards above sea level around a marked course.

Lasting about 10 minutes each, there are two races scheduled for each of Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 June, at Blackpool's North Shore. There will be refreshments and entertainment from 11am to 6pm both days, including aerial acrobatics displays.

The expert pilots, drawn from the military and commercial flying, will navigate laps of a mile-long course, built around four pylons rising out of the sea. During the race, they will experience forces of up to 10G -- almost three times that felt on Blackpool's Pepsi Max Big One -- the tallest rollercoaster in the country.

Aero GP will take place as part of Blackpool Veterans' Week, 21-29 June - nine days of events to honour veterans from the UK's armed forces. Half of the pilots flying in the air race will be armed forces veterans.

All aspects of the event are being carefully designed and planned by experts in air sports and being reviewed and observed closely by the Civil Aviation Authority. The Blackpool Aero GP is being organised in association with the British Formula Air Racing Association (FARA), which is the historic governing body for air racing in the UK and an official body of the Royal Aero Club.

Aero GP, the fastest motorsport in Europe, is extending its annual championship into a series of competitions in 2008, returning to Constanta, Romania 7-8 June for the start of the season and at least one other European venue yet to be announced. The series sees some of the top pilots in the world competing in various disciplines including an air race, aerobatics and actual air-to-air combat.

Jeff Zaltman, president of the Aero GP, said "After many years of working to promote and revitalise air racing and air sports, we are thrilled to be able to confirm the Aero GP in Britain. This is an exciting time for Aero GP and we couldn't think of a better place to race than Blackpool, given its support for aviation and its success at hosting events. We promise the visitors to Blackpool an historic and safe weekend of exciting sport led by amazing pilots."

Cllr. Mrs Maxine Callow, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Tourism said: "Blackpool is delighted to be the first town in the UK to host the Aero GP Air Race, and we are thrilled that we can deliver this event as part of our Veterans' Week celebrations.

"Blackpool is an ideal location for this event, as our historical links with aviation and in particular air races and displays, is long indeed.

"We hope that the thousands of veterans and their families visiting the resort will enjoy this exciting new event."

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) is sponsoring National Veterans Week as part of a three-year project to fund a programme of signature events in Blackpool.

James Berresford, Director of Tourism at the NWDA, said: "Blackpool is going to huge lengths to make sure National Veterans Week features an exciting programme of activity for all.

"The announcement that such a compelling and thrilling spectacle as air racing will be part of the programme is tremendous and I'm sure will prove a draw for thousands of visitors."

-credit: veteransweek.co.uk

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