I think almost everyone I know (those in Sheffield for definite) saw the flypast over Endcliffe park, whether they were in their living room watching TV or standing in one of several parks in the South West of the city. It appeared that half of my friends were standing in the same muddy field as me at a ridiculously early time of the morning – not that I located many of them among the 12,000 strong crowd.
I’d dragged everyone out of bed again (at the moment I’m acting as the whole family’s social organiser whether they like it or not). We were there by about 8.15am, so nowhere near early enough toget an adequate view of Steph McGovern. We made do with watching a big screen of the BBC action (with no sound for interference reasons I’m guessing) and gazing skyward in a hopeful way. Other attendees opted for joining the hour long coffee queue, or drinking their own wine (yes that’s right, wine at the crack of dawn) to pass the time.
There was a display of display and the sound of bugling from somewhere over near the cafe. And there was Tony, a humble man who’d dedicated years to tending a memorial for US airmen who had crash landed in Endcliffe Park 75 years ago.
It was weirdly emotional as the planes flew over. The roar, the excitement, Tony’s smiles and tears on the screen, my Sheffield community celebrating something personal and emotional on a massive scale.
I know I’ve seen airshows before. I’ve seen the Red Arrows loop the loop over Cromer shore and other air displays in my childhood. But I’d never seen a flypast like this – soaring aircraft to recognise someone for their years of personal commitment, and airmen being remembered and celebrated by a whole city. It was moving and powerful.
It was slightly less moving and powerful when I thought I was stuck in gridlock on the way home but it’s our own fault, we should have walked.
Well done Tony, and my adopted city for being as I’d expected you’d be. Wonderful.