Lowestoft Air Show is an annual event which takes place over two days every summer. Each of the two days sees various aircraft displaying over the sea, watched by spectators from the beach. Often threatened due to lack of funds, it's great to see it continue to survive and bring visitors by the tens of thousands.

Each of the two days of aerial action is capped by a fireworks display from the pier, this year provided by the Dynamic Fireworks team. Day two promised an interesting twist with a simultaneous pier and boat display, more on this later!

A gloriously sunny day greeted us as we loaded the car with our camera gear and we even remembered the sun block having been turned into lobsters at many a previous air show. Arriving at the firing site we negotiated the ever-tighter security and rolled up to find the Dynamic crew already hard at work.

It was clear from the HUGE amount of gear that a really big show was planned. Time as usual to get the UKFR cameras rolling and to have a look around.

: Unloading the van, a large pile of pyro : Cakes, rockets and cables : Those metal frames will soon be assembled into shell racks : Candle bundles : Flight rockets : A whole van was required just for the mortar tubes : Unloading the smaller racks : The 8" tube

As you'll see from these pictures just about every possible type of pyro was going to be used in this display. Shells, cakes, rockets, mines and candles. I was quite staggered by the amount of gear here which was put into perspective by the van full of just the shell tubes!

: Ammo dump in the foreground, massive crowds in the background : Line of racks : Cleaning the tubes out ready for loading : More pyro : Flight rockets : Flight rockets close-up : More cleaning - being a firer is NOT
a glamorous job! : Summer Mayhem box detail

I thought we looked the dog's bollocks with our two new aluminium camera cases, but the Dynamic crew outdid us there with no less than half a dozen bigger cases plus metal ammo boxes too. Mmmm, back to the drawing board there!

It was great to watch the team getting the gear ready because they knew exactly what they were doing and where everything was. After unloading the van, the next job was cleaning the shell tubes. A metal pole was used to remove any paper left over from the previous launches. So far, lots of hard work and not a single item fused up yet - just goes to show how much is involved in a pro show.

Once the tubes were cleaned, the crew next set up the shell racks. Here, "flat pack" metal systems were used, with interlocking frames. These assembled really quickly into sturdy racks and this was the most impressive and efficient system I have seen yet. You can see this in action in the set up video clip later in this section.

Time now to load the tubes. A whole range of shell sizes were carefully loaded into their tubes in the correct sequence.

: Their cases were bigger than ours! : Rack side view : Electrical connector box : Flight rockets and equipment cases : Good job my case had a sticker on it, they all looked the same : Mixed rack : Loading shells : More loading

These displays were going to be electrically fired so along with the piles of pyro, there were countless cases of support equipment. Cables, junction boxes, firing desks, fuse, cable ties, tools - check out the pictures. There's always a lot more work to do setting up an electrically fired show, but the benefits are ease of lighting and the ability to cue complex sequences.

: Loading more shells - you can see in the background the huge safety distance the pier provided : Various racks : The lifeboat speeds past to take part in an air/sea display : Three views of the flight rocket bundles waiting to be fused : View down the pier between the racks : Only the best quality ignitors in use here!

We had a great view from the end of the pier of both the crowd and the air show itself. I can't recommend the event enough if you're looking for a good day out. The beach soon became packed with people watching various aircraft going through their paces and sea displays too, thanks to the lifeboat. There was even a fairground too and plenty of other attractions.

Back to the pyro and by mid-afternoon all the fireworks were set out, loaded and the job of connecting the electrical ignitors started. I noticed the team were using Davey Bickford ignitors rather than the cheaper oriental versions you can get. "We want maximum reliability" they explained. "Cost is not an issue with us where a big display depends on everything firing when it should". This was reassuring and in fact all of their kit looked to be the best possible for the job in hand.

: Mines : Attaching ignitors : View from the opposite side of the pier : More racks : Flight rockets fused up : Getting the cakes sorted out : Close-up of a fan cake : 8" tube with airshow display in the distance

This would be a good point to mention the aircraft! You'd think it would be great to have a front row seat - and for us it was - but for the crew an already intense and hard day was made even harder by the nearby airshow. I don't mean just a few passing planes, I mean LOW flying jets, planes and helicopters. Often swerving just at the last possible moment so as not to fly directly over the fireworks area. Check out some of the following pictures to see what I mean!

: This is the maritime signal at the end of the pier - distant planes swerve in formation : View back towards the crowd
: Three big cakes : Another noisy and low flying aircraft : At times they appeared to be lining up a bombing run!
: Preparing some candle fans : Finished fans : Some of the many complicated wiring

As the afternoon drew on, the mass of equipment in the firing area started to take on a visible structure. Rack upon racks of shells plus dozens of cakes and candle fans were spread out, linked by a web of black cabling converging on various junction boxes. These in turn fed back to others, merging into the two firing desks at the far end. It looked ever so complicated to me but the Dynamic team knew what every single item was thanks to a very detailed firing sheet. It certainly pays to prepare for shows to make the day itself easier.

: More cabling : Splitter unit close-up : Lancaster fly past : Almost there! : Close-up of a an electrical ignitor where it attaches to a cake : Good view of the whole firing area : Check out this cheeky chap! He spent hours trying to get in through my sunroof to nick my lunch : Space Flower spotlight unit

With almost everything complete now the crew did several tests from the firing desk to ensure the circuits were good. Final connections and tweaks were made and after a short break for a welcome bite to eat it was time for them to rehearse the firing order another time to make sure everyone was happy.

The light started to fall and the beach began to clear as the very last air displays had been completed. Now the expectation began to rise as we looked over a very large swathe of cables, racks and pyro. It would only be a few hours and this lot would be going up. Check out the next section to see the end result!

©2006 UK Firework Review and Pete Beckett as noted. All rights reserved.