Blue skies over Sussex provided the perfect backdrop for the annual Royal Air Forces Airshow at Shoreham at the weekend.

The two-day show raises money for the Wings Appeal charity, which provides care for ex-RAF personnel.

The event is one of the biggest fund-raisers for the charity and is growing by the year, with this year's spectacular being boosted by days of magnificent sunshine.

The airshow, which attracts thousands of people from across the country to watch some one of the best aerial displays in the UK, was particularly poignant this year as it celebrated the 60th anniversary of VE and VJ days.

The show brought together planes of the past and some of the most sophisticated ones from the present.

Margaret and Brian Allason travelled from Kings Lynn to the Sussex show for the second time.

Mrs Allason, 54, said: "My husband loves planes and has dozens of books and videos. I never read or watch them but the first time I saw some of them in action was at Shoreham last year and I began to understand his interest."

Father-of-two Mr Allason said the highlight was seeing the RAF Typhoon in action.

The Typhoon, also called the Eurofighter, tore through the sky, breaking the sound barrier with ear-splitting power, felt in the chests of the thousands of people watching the machine slice through the sky.

It was the first time Shoreham played host to the fighter, which can reach a height of 55,000 feet.

Betty Alexandra, 73, of Brighton Road, Newhaven, said: "It frightened me. It looks and sounds scary. It's nothing like the planes in the war when I was a kid."

The show attracts plane spotters, veterans of the skies, families and those who enjoy the aerobatics of a vast range of planes.

Modern-day favourites included the twin-turbo Chinook helicopter.

Although it looks like a heavy war horse, people were amazed by its manouverability as it hovered sideways, tipped its nose to the ground, nodded to the crowd and flew into the sky almost vertically.

Another modern favourite was the Harrier GR7. It hovered in front of the crowd, dipping its nose in salute, flew backwards, upside down and rolled through the sky like a bird, all so fast, photographers below struggled to follow it.

The organisers of the 16th annual show, headed by Don Bean MBE, ensured this year's event marked the 60th anniversary of VE and VJ Day and paid special tribute to the war heroes of the sky who helped the Allies win.

Among the historic planes was the Spitfire which undertook a Battle of Britain memorial flight.

Other Second World War favourites were the Hurricane and the massive Sally B, the B17.

More recently, the Sally B returned to fame when it featured in the film Memphis Belle. The huge US machine was based in the UK during the war and carried out bombing raids on Germany between July 4, 1942, and May 8, 1945.

New regulations mean the Sally B could be banned from the air next year and insurance is already £30,000.

As well as old and new machines, the Utterly Butterly biplanes also took to the air. Two lycra-clad women climbed on to the wings and carried out an airbourne wing walk.

An equally impressive, if more unusual, attraction was Christian Moullec's flying geese.

Mr Moullec took to the air in a microlight and his flock of geese followed him in formation, which raised a standing ovation.

The air show's reputation as a great day out is spreading.

Jo Hemsley, 34, of Old Shoreham Road, Brighton, took her two young children, age seven and nine, for the first time.

She said: "I've never been to an air show but it's absolutely brilliant. The children are so busy looking at everything I haven't had a single tantrum.

I thought it would be a few planes and stalls but this is fantastic. I shall tell all my friends who have never been to come next year."