‘IT WAS the best one yet’ – that was the verdict of overjoyed organisers on this year’s stunning Waterfront Festival in Littlehampton on Sunday (July 27).
The River Arun was awash with activity as the event launched in the morning in thrilling fashion, with a seaplane landing in the harbour.
Hundreds of people lined the banks of the river to watch the dramatic display unfold, as experienced pilot John Russell landed his single-engine Cessna 182R aircraft gracefully into the water.
It was the first time in decades that a plane had managed to achieve the feat, with previous attempts being scuppered by poor weather or dangerous crosswinds.
Deputy harbour master Lee Harrison said: “In the five years that I have done this, it’s the first time that it’s not been blown out or that we have had to cancel it.
“We finally had the weather on our side. It was absolutely fantastic.”
John made a first cursory attempt at the landing before pulling up and circling back round.
He managed to touch his plane down on the second pass, much to the delight of the crowd, who cheered and applauded his efforts.
Speaking after his stunt, John, who has been a flying since 1967, said: “The first time really was just as a look-see to see how things were and as a result of that I decided to land a little bit further down the cut to ensure that I had lots of room for stopping.
“I wasn’t concentrating on the crowds, I was concentrating on the landing but it really looks good here. You’ve got a good crowd today.”
The day’s activities were organised by the Littlehampton Harbour Board and supported by the many organisations who use the river.
Lee said there was a massive amount of excitement when John announced he would be attempting the landing.
“We were all elated and chuffed by the news,” he said. “He had hoped to do it last year but the weather forced us to all that off. So when we heard he was attempting the landing it was action stations in getting the harbour ready for the landing.”
For the full report of all the activities during the festival, plus more pictures, see this week’s Littlehampton Gazette (July 31).