|Festa al Cel has had a difficult few years behind it. After the last-minute cancellation in 2013 due to the alledged proximity to the Barcelona-El Prat airspace, the subsequent move to Mataro and their withdrawal from the show in 2016, the show organization was planning to hold the 2017 airshow at Santa Susanna, but that plan also fell through at the eleventh hour.
Safety concerns about a lack of evacuation routes meant Santa Susanna did not receive a permit for the show on their seaside. With time running out fast, a new venue was found at the airport of Lleida-Alguaire, about 180 kilometres west of Barcelona. Unlike other Spanish airports, this new airport, which opened in 2010, is under control of the regional government of Catalonia, not the Spanish airport agency AENA. Previously, the airport had hosted the Lleida Air Challenge, but a show on the scale of Festa al Cel is a whole new ball game.
There are only few scheduled flights from the airport and traffic is a bit slow in general with the oocasional training flight of Vuelling or the local aeroclub, though the proximity to ski-resorts in the nearby Pyrenees no doubt means there is potential for charter flights in winter time.
On Saturday morning, spotters were able to see participating aircraft and their support upclose for free, a very nice gesture, while preparations for the show continued apace. This included lots of TV-equipment as the show would be broadcast live on Sunday by the Spanish national channel TVE.
Watch the complete report above (46 minutes)
On Saturday, the show ran from about 16:30 until 20:30, while the Sunday programme ran from roughly 11:00 to 15:00.
Civilian participation at the show consisted of the Fundacio Parc Aeronautic de Catalunya with a T-34 Mentor and a Jungmann and the Aeroclub de Barcelona Sabadell with a trio of Cessna 172/182s for characteristic Festa al Cel carussels. Also present were the Paramotors de Barcelona. From the UK came GliderFX, with Ian Gallagher presenting a pyrotechnic spectacular on Saturday evening and a full aerobatics routine on Sunday with a Fox glider.
While the move from a seaside event to an airshow at an airport brought its own challenges in terms of security and ground operations, Festa al Cel 2017 laid a solid foundation to build on for future editions of the show at Lleida-Alguaire. The programme had plenty of variety and no doubt, everyone hopes the event will return to its fixed spot on the airshow calendar.
|Thanks to Daniel Ventura González Alonso and Paul Johnson
Report by Chris Janssens
Lay-out and content by Chris Janssens, 2005 - present