BRITAIN’S biggest free airshow got over the disappointments of a grey start and grounded planes to kick off this year’s proceedings in fine style.

Thousands flocked to the first day of the 25th flying of Airbourne in Eastbourne yesterday to see a sky full of action and plenty on the ground to enjoy too.

The day started with the bad news that the Battle of Britain memorial flight would be grounded because of engine issues but crowds were still treated to spectacular acts of aerial skills from more modern aircraft.

The Tigers Parachute Display Team and Breitling Wingwalkers kicked off proceedings from 2pm as the morning clouds cleared.

Spectators also craned their necks to see the “classic warbird” the Boultbee Flight Academy P-51D ‘Miss Helen’ perform as well as witnessing an Airbourne debut from the Gyro Copter.

Also causing a stir above the Sussex coast was the Belgian Air Force F-16.

After the flying was done, fans settled down for a screening of family favourite film Moana on the beach at the bottom of the Wish Tower slopes.

In the next few days, the festival will also screen Paddington, Planes 2 and The Jungle Book while the Redoubt Fortress hosts a private screening of Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines surrounded by giant aircraft models tonight.

Sunday’s closing day will finish with a spectacular fireworks display to close the four-day spectacular.

Organisers are confident of three more days of great action with a much brighter outlook, today and tomorrow looking particularly fine.

The RAF decided to ground its fleet of Lancaster bombers, Hurricanes and Spitfires because of problems with their Merlin engines.

Organisers said yesterday they were waiting for updates on their availability for the final three days

Phil Evans, Eastbourne Borough Council director of tourism and enterprise, said: “We are looking at alternatives, should the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight continue to be grounded over the remainder of the four day show.”