Introduction: Farnborough has long been the site of one of the two most prestigious aviation trade shows in the world, rivalled only by Paris in terms of scale. Running from the 16th-22nd July, the final two days of the show (and, to a lesser extent, the day before that) are open to the public. The official website is farnboroughairshow.com.
Visitor information: the Monday to Friday (16th-20th July) are the trade days, aimed solely at industry professionals. The daily air displays run at around two hours and generally feature modern aircraft attending the event for trade purposes. The public weekend (21st-22nd July) functions almost as an entirely separate event, with many trade aircraft leaving and being replaced by civilian performers intended to represent all facets of aviation in a five hour flying display. “FAB Farnborough Friday” (20th July) is something of a combination of the two events, with a 2.5-hour flying display and a small number of tickets on sale to the public.
Tickets: trade day tickets to the Farnborough Airshow are limited to registered industry professionals. Friday tickets cost £38.40. Saturday and Sunday adult tickets cost £42.00, with an enclosure option available for £69.00. Those wishing to visit on both days can do so for £64.00. Under 16s go free on Saturday and Sunday. Free parking is included in the cost of the ticket. Public day tickets are among the most expensive in Europe and are largely acknowledged as providing poor value for money when compared to other events with a comparable aerial display.
Tips: as with almost all airshows, the best advice is to arrive early and stay late to avoid the crowds. This applies particularly at Farnborough, where much of the car parking is off-site and so a shuttle bus trip is often necessary. In our experience, entry to the show has been reasonably swift, with exiting taking slightly longer. Those wishing to see aircraft participating in the trade aspect of the show (generally considered more interesting by most enthusiasts) should expect to be disappointed if they are visiting solely during the public weekend.
2016 show: 2016’s Farnborough Airshow was marred by severe new restrictions on the flying displays due to new built-up areas under the display zone. This forced the RAF Red Arrows, who had been due to perform on the public days, to limit their appearance to a number of flypasts. The RAF Typhoon Display was also exchanged for a BAE Systems Typhoon role demonstration for the same reason. The trade days aerial display featured the likes of the Boeing 787 and 737 MAX, in addition to fighter aircraft such as the F-35B Lightning and JAS-39C Gripen. Many of these aircraft left before the public days. Public visitors enjoyed rare displays from the A380, An-178, A400M and F/A-18 Hornet, in addition to civilian displays such as the Breitling Wingwalkers, The Blades and B-17 Flying Fortress. Though varied and reasonably lengthy, the show received heavy criticism for containing aircraft commonly found at free seaside airshows.
2018 show: it appears that current restrictions on aerobatics at Farnborough will remain in place for the foreseeable future, meaning we’re unlikely to see a Red Arrows display at the show in 2018. From early flying display confirmations, it is already clear that the public days will once again feature the many civilian displays for which the show received so much criticism two years ago. Trade visitors are expected to include many of the usual suspects (Boeing and Airbus “heavies”, the Typhoon and Super Hornet, among others), with the tantalising prospect of an F-35B Lightning display given its scheduled appearance at RIAT one day previously.
- Great War Display Team x3 RAF SE5a, x2 Fokker DR.1, x2 Junkers CL.1, Avro 504K, Sopwith Triplane, RAF BE2c (F-P)
- Flying Bulls x2 Alpha Jet, B-25J Mitchell, P-38L Lightning, F4U-4 Corsair (F-P) TBC
- Breitling Wingwalkers x2 Boeing Stearman (F-P)
- Bristol Blenheim 1F (F-P)
- PBY-5A Catalina (F-P)
- Supermarine Spitfire IXT (F-P)
- Rotorsport Calidus Autogyro (F-P)
- Westland Sea King HU.5 (S)
(F) – Flying all days (F-T) – Flying trade days (F-P) – Flying public days (FP-P) – Flypast public days
(S) – Static all days (S-T) Static trade days “TBC” – not officially confirmed “
aircraft” – Cancelled