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The skies await: Sunderland prepares for Europe's biggest free airshow

The Red Arrows fly past in a previous Sunderland International Airshow Photo: ITV Tyne Tees

Come 1:30pm tomorrow on Wearside, you will find it hard not to look skywards.

For 23 years, at about this time, Sunderland's cloudy skyline is transformed into a dazzling display of aviation prowess.

The Sunderland International Airshow is Europe's biggest free meeting of its type and attracts well over 250,000 people over the weekend.

Today, burger vans and tent builders join hundreds of people who are putting up big screens and transforming the beach front into the venue for the show. Each year, the show brings in hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Sunderland economy.

Among the highlights this year are the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the Breitling Wingwalkers and a ground-attack demonstration by the RAF's GR4 Tornados.

But across the river in Newcastle this evening, there is one nervous rehearsal happening.

Mayoress Cllr Barbara McClenna is practising her wing-walk ready for the weekend, as part of her campaign to raise money for her mayoral charities.

The organisers are watching the weather carefully, but there will not be a moment's rest until the last plane has landed, and the last visitor has set off back home.

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