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60 years at Farnborough

Last week Farnborough airfield welcomed more than 140,000 visitors and 1500 trade exhibitors to its 2008 international airshow

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Last week Farnborough airfield welcomed more than 140,000 visitors and 1500 trade exhibitors to its 2008 international airshow. While hoards of people arrived at the gates, a spectacular red arrows display coloured the blue skies to mark the beginning of this year's event.

Celebrating the 60th anniversary of airshows at this site, the 2008 event was the biggest to date. The four large halls housed hundreds of exhibitors' stands, while rows of chalets provided more space for larger companies such as Dubai Aerospace Enterprise and BAE systems.

The Middle East aviation sector was well represented with Etihad, Fly Dubai and Qatar Airways all making announcements. While Abu Dhabi's national carrier told of its plans to continue its relationship with aircraft manufacturer Boeing; Qatar's CEO, Akbar Al Baker, announced the Doha-based airline would be placing its latest aircraft orders with Airbus. In addition, Fly Dubai's charismatic new CEO was present to deliver news of the budget carrier's US$4 billion investment in Boeing's aircraft.

With a varied mix of civil and military aircraft, the daily flying displays delighted aviation enthusiasts. The larger aircraft included the new A380, which will make its inaugural flight with a Middle Eastern airline early next month when it flies to New York with Emirates. Smaller planes included the Aero Sekur Shooting Stars and the HAL Helicopter.

In 1908 the Cody Flyer became the first powered aircraft to take to the skies over British soil. The static replica of this model was displayed at the show, just a few months before the 100 year anniversary of its first flights. In addition there were several models on display which dated back to World War II, such as the Catalina, a 1930s American flying boat, originally designed as a patrol bomber, an aircraft intended to locate and attack enemy transport ships at sea.

Elizabeth Cernik is the Assistant Editor of Aviation Business.

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