|2012 was a difficult year for airshows in Spain: Not only did the seaside festivals face a harsh climate, they also struggled due to the absence of Spanish military displays, caused by a change-over in airforce Chief-of-Staff just before the start of the airshow season.
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The lack of Spanish military displays was only temporary, but it did last for just about the entire airshow season. This meant organizers had to hope for foreign military participation, far from an easy task nowadays, and focus on civilian displays.
The 21st Festa al Cel, organized by Barcelona's city council in collaboration with Aeroclub Sabadell, had an additional problem: extreme weather led to the cancellation of all rehearsals on Saturday. As a result, the programme on Sunday was cut an hour short and quite a few displays flew their practice at the crack of dawn over the seafront.
A last-minute addition to the programme was very welcome as it came from the Spanish airforce, the helicopter display team Aspa with their EC-120s, serving to assure spectators the Spanish airforce fully intended to display again in 2013.
The other displays were all civilian. All the way from the UK came the SWIP-team with their Silence Twisters, who were originally intended to perform a sunset display on Saturday evening. 3 warbirds came over from France: a Skyraider, Sea Fury and Spitfire. Most other displays hailed from Spain itself, perhaps the most unusual being the Zapata Flyboard, a device that sucks up water via a giant hoover and squirts it out allowing the 'driver' to fly powered by water thrust.
Vuelling, the airline that has its main operating hub at Barcelona El Prat provided an impressive Airbus A320 routine, while Aeroclub Sabadell and Fundacio Parc Aeronautic de Catalunya (FPAC) both provided entertaining caroussels, something which one can not grow tired of. It was particularly nice to see a T-34 Mentor in Spanish airforce colours join the Buckers and Zlins in the FPAC presentation.
Probably the most spectacular routines came from Frenchman Nicolas Ivanoff in his Edge 540, and Patrulla Bravo Repsol with their SU-26s, taking the name from their main sponsor, oil company Repsol. The latter fly a routine very comparable to the Red Bull Matadors, back when they were still flying the SU-26. The aircraft never fails to impress!
It was also nice to get a flypast from the emergency services helicopters at the end of the show, an opportunity to see these unsung heroes present themselves.
Watch the complete report above (30 minutes)
While it was a difficult year, Festa al Cel still proved very entertaining and overcame the hurdles very well. 2013 promises to be a more traditional show, hopefully with better weather on practice days.