THOUSANDS of tourists are expected to land in Blackpool to see the country's first Aero GP air race this summer.
The Gazette can today reveal Blackpool will hold an Aero GP air race grand prix – Europe's fastest motor sport – as part of the winning bid to host National Veterans' Day.
The impressive air races will see eight high-performance sport aeroplanes racing together, all in the air at the same time.
The air race will take place over the sea along the North Shore beach front starting from North Pier on June 28 and 29.
Some of the world's top pilots will descend on the town to compete in air races, aerobatics and actual air-to-air dogfights.
Jeff Zaltman, president of the Aero GP, said: "We are thrilled to be able to confirm the first-ever Aero GP 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."
And the man who challenged council leader Coun Peter Callow to bring air racing to Blackpool, aviation enthusiast John McNicholas, certainly thinks the resort is flying high after this announcement.
Mr McNicholas, of Red Bank Road, Bispham, said: "I issued an open challenge to Peter Callow to get air racing here.
"He picked that up and he's come up trumps.
"I'm really pleased it's going to show how much value these new headlands will have.
"The more events we can get the better for Blackpool – for tourists as well as residents. It's marvellous."
Coun Maxine Callow said she hoped the event would encourage local people to make use of Blackpool's Promenade and beach.
She said: "It's brilliant, it's another new attraction for Blackpool. It sounds very exciting. It's great for visitors and our local people.
"We want to encourage our local people to use the Promenade and the beach.
"It's their Promenade to enjoy with their families.
"This shows that the
council is committed to turning Blackpool around. We're hoping we can attract the organisers to come back again."
The Blackpool Aero GP, organised in association with the British Formula Air Racing Association (FARA), is not only being seen as a significant step towards regenerating Blackpool, it is also being hailed as an important event in British aviation.
Andrew Chadwick, president of FARA, said: "The UK has had a rich history of air racing for nearly a century, but the sport is due for a revival.
"We are working with Aero GP to promote the sport, which in its heyday was the biggest public sports attraction in the UK.
"This year marks the 100th anniversary of aviation in Britain, so it's a fitting time to both reflect and to re-launch a successful British sports heritage into the future."
n Opinion – Page 11