It’s less than two weeks until Sheffield looks to the skies to see a unique flyover of US and Royal Air Force aircraft – to mark 75 years since the Mi Amigo disaster.
The whole city is rallying behind Tony Foulds, who has been tending the Mi Amigo memorial for many years, with Buses for Sheffield and Stagecoach Supertram offering free travel for service personnel and veterans in honour of the occasion.
Now Sheffield City Council is advising people to plan their journeys to Endcliffe Park carefully and in advance so they can arrive in time for the flypast on Friday 22 February, which will be broadcast live by BBC Breakfast to an audience of millions.
While final aircraft participation will be driven by weather and mission requirements, the US Airforce is anticipating a unique variety of aircraft from U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force installations including RAF Lakenheath, RAF Mildenhall and RAF Coningsby.
Due to airspace regulations, these aircraft will not fly in one combined formation together but will still put on a fantastic show of airpower in tribute to the fallen crew of the Mi Amigo.
Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “This is going to be a truly memorable day in Sheffield’s history and we are looking forward to welcoming our friends from the US to pay tribute to this remarkable crew who gave their lives so bravely during the Second World War.
“Sheffield owes the Mi Amigo crew a huge debt of gratitude for their sacrifice 75 years ago. We have honoured their memory for all these years and this flypast will be a fitting tribute. It’s also a tribute to Tony who has tended the memorial for all these years.
“We want as many people as possible to see the flypast and would urge them to take the following steps to ensure they have a day to remember on 22 February.”
PLAN YOUR JOURNEY
SYPTE Director of Customer Services, Tim Taylor, said: “The flypast will be a fantastic tribute. Buses for Sheffield and Stagecoach Supertram are pleased to support the occasion by offering free public transport for service personnel. We’re encouraging all spectators to travel to Endcliffe Park in a sustainable way, by planning public transport, walking and cycling options in advance at travelsouthyorkshire.com”
Free travel is valid for current and ex-service personnel carrying identification cards or in uniform on First, Stagecoach and TM Travel bus services operating within the Sheffield boundary, and on Stagecoach Supertram services, between start of service and 12 noon on 22 February 2019.
On the tram the customer should show a current forces ID card or wear a HM Armed Forces Veterans badge to get free travel on the day.
Services 81, 82, 83, 83a and 88 provide a bus at least every five minutes from the city centre to Endcliffe Park, with a journey time of approximately 15 minutes. There will be no parking at Endcliffe Park with people advised to allow plenty of time and travel by public transport or on foot wherever possible. Park responsibly and allow plenty of time to get to the park.
We will be using the hashtags #turnupfortony and #sheffieldflypast to make sure people are kept up to date in the days prior to the event.
Please avoid the area if you are not planning on witnessing the flypast.
It is worth checking weather forecasts and local radio announcements prior to the flypast. The flypast may not take place in extreme weather conditions.
Wear sensible footwear and bring your own seating if needed as it won’t be possible to provide seating in the park.
You are advised not to bring wreaths to the Friday event but an area of the park will be able to take flowers if you choose to bring them on the day.
ARRIVE IN PLENTY OF TIME, BUT NOT TOO EARLY
The BBC will be broadcasting live from the park from around 6am to 9.15am on the morning of the 22 February. However, there is no need to arrive at this time. People are encouraged to arrive at the park from around 7.15am. A memorial service will take place from around 8am with the flypast set to follow at 8.45am.
Due to the location of the memorial on the other side of the Porter Brook, there will be no immediate access to the memorial area during the BBC filming, from 6am to 9.15am, and access to the memorial and that side of the river may be limited afterwards.
The best viewing area will be in the large field close to the Endcliffe Park café, which will be serving teas and refreshments. A big screen will be there to relay events to the crowd.
On the Friday, a memorial service will take place, starting at approximately 8am, with a Bugler playing one verse of Amazing Grace. There will be a reading from St John’s Gospel by a Royal British Legion and a bugler will play the Last Post and Reveille.
The annual memorial service is on Sunday 24 February at 2pm at St Augustine’s Parish Church, Endcliffe. Prior to the service, at around 1.15pm, a group of USAF personnel, RAFA officers, the Lord Mayor, Lord-Lieutenant, High Sheriff and members of the public will hold a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial site.
VANTAGE POINTS and POTENTIAL ROUTE
It is believed that the flypast will arrive in Sheffield from the south-east before arriving in Endcliffe Park, although this route may be subject to change. The city has a number of lofty vantage points which might provide a spectacular back drop for the flyover, such as Bolehills Park, Park Hill flats, Skye Edge playing fields and the Botanical Gardens.
The flypast will also be broadcast on BBC Breakfast if you can’t make it into Sheffield on the day.
The council will be launching a photography competition on its social media channels encouraging people to get the best pictures and send them to us at #sheffieldflypast. We will publish the best ones on our website.
PLAN A DAY OUT IN SHEFFIELD
It’s half-term when the flypast takes place and there are a number of events taking place in the city.
Go to Welcome to Sheffield to find out more and to book accommodation. Our pick of the events are
On 22 February 1819, 60,000 people watched the first boats travel along the brand new Sheffield Canal. Exactly 200 years later, it’s time to celebrate!
From 11am, you can drop into Victoria Quays and let the kids be transported back in time on a whirlwind adventure. At 1.30pm, don’t miss the main spectacle when a flotilla of brightly coloured boats will arrive into Victoria Quays, recreating that first ever journey on the canal. More details here:
Twelve remarkable drawings by Leonardo da Vinci from the Royal Collection have gone on display at the Millennium Gallery as part of a major nationwide exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing will see some of the Renaissance master’s greatest drawings shown in a series of simultaneous exhibitions taking place in twelve cities across the UK.
FOR MORE FLYPAST INFORMATION
The council has set up a dedicated page for Flypast information at http://bit.ly/flypastsheffield. We will also post regular updates on Twitter @sheffcouncil and Facebook at Our Sheffield, as well as on our Sheffield Newsroom site.
Since October the council has been working with Mr Foulds to improve access and information at the site in readiness for the 75th anniversary. Trees and bushes around memorial area have been pruned to improve access, the gravel footpath below the memorial has been resurfaced, new flower planters have been placed by the memorial and work to open up site lines around the river bank are due to be completed before the event.
A new interpretation board has been installed which tells the tale of what happened to the Mi Amigo crew on the morning of 22 February, 1944, and following a plea from Mr Foulds the steps leading to the memorial have been freshly tarmacked to make access easier for visitors.