The first day of the Farnborough air show ended early after a passing summer storm dumped a deluge of heavy rain on the show grounds.
The downpour started around 14:30 and ended just half an hour later – but not before forcing organisers to cancel all flight displays and close the show for the day. Citing safety concerns, officials then shut off electricity to the exhibit halls and ordered attendees to exit the show.
“Due to the heavy rain, unfortunately we have had to cancel today’s flying display and close the show early,” officials said in a statement. “This is, of course, disappointing news, but safety remains our number one priority.”
“We expect to run a full programme of events tomorrow and the rest of the week. All of today’s tickets are valid tomorrow,” the statement adds.
Attendees caught outside as the downpour began raced through sheets of water towards the shelter of exhibition halls and chalets. Some cowered under suit jackets; others wrapped themselves in black plastic bags.
“They looked like a bunch of well-dressed refugees,” observed Peter Cartwright, a freelance videographer who was working at the show when the storm struck. “They were caught surprised.”
Storm drains at the site could not cope with the torrent, and water backed up in several locations, forming a lake more than 20cm deep in front of Raytheon’s chalet.
Golf buggies shuttled stranded attendees through standing water, which cascaded in waterfalls down concrete steps.
“I’m surprised someone hasn’t cleaned the drain,” one onlooker observed.
Another attendee, Richard Blogg, was caught in the rain on the flight line and took shelter in an exhibition hall.
“It started pouring down there,” says Blogg, his shirt dripping wet. “Now I’m going to find some place to warm up and dry out.”
Inside the exhibition halls, water leaked from the roof and seeped under the floor, leaving the hall carpets squishy like a wet sponge.
When the rain eased, security officials cut the electricity and urged the show’s attendees to depart as soon as possible.
“Everybody out,” officials ordered attendees. “Move to the exits.”
The exhibit halls were soon empty, quiet and dark, apart from blinking emergency lights and humming fans.
Source: Flight Daily News