SPECTATORS and aviation enthusiasts gathered at Bournemouth Airport to catch a fleeting glimpse of the Red Arrows as they returned for the first time since last year’s tragic crash, which killed pilot Jon Egging.
The jets had stopped to refuel at Bournemouth before taking part in a Diamond Jubilee flypast at Windsor Castle on Saturday for the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.
Families lined up around the airport fence perimeter to witness the emotional return of the legendary aerobatic team to the town.
Flt Lt Egging’s plane crashed into a field near Throop after a display at last year’s Bournemouth Air Festival.
It is the first time the team have been back to Bournemouth since they left the airport a week after his death in August last year.
And as the nine jets took off in groups of three over West Parley towards the Isle of Wight around midday on Saturday, spectators cheered and waved as the roaring Hawks swept overhead.
Earlier in the day, pilots had been autographing brochures and other items for fans outside Cobham on the Aviation Park.
Many people had also congregated at Bournemouth Flying Club to see the take-off.
The event at Windsor Castle included a parade of thousands of troops as well as the impressive flypast.
The jubilant crowds were treated to a display of RAF Typhoons in the diamond formation, 20 Tucanos in the shape of “60”, 27 Hawks in an “E II R” formation, a Lancaster bomber with two Spitfires as well as the thunderous Red Arrows finale.
It has been confirmed the Red Arrows will be returning for this year’s Bournemouth Air Festival taking place on August 30-September 2.