PICTURES: Birdman returns to Ilfracombe for 2021

Ilfracombe Rugby Club's team

Ilfracombe Rugby Club's team - Credit: Ilfracombe Roundtable

Thousands soared to Ilfracombe on Saturday, August 21, for the return of Birdman, Ilfracombe Round Table’s infamous flying contest and music festival, after it was postponed last year. 

Over 10,000 people attended the free event on the pier where they were entertained by teams of brave pilots with their hand-crafted flying machines, hurling themselves off the runway and descending into the water in a bid to win the coveted Birdman trophy. 

Pall Ilfracombe were crowned overall winners by the judges for their fantastic attempt with an aircraft inspired by the filters they manufacture in their town plant. Peter Brocklesby, Pall Ilfracombe Plant Manager, said: “Our filters and associates have played a huge part in the worldwide supply of the COVID vaccine over the last year.

"We wanted to recognise and share the hard work of everyone in our team by having a little bit of fun. We enjoyed being part of this fantastic community event and will be back next year to defend our title!” 

Grand Champions 2021 - Team Pall

Grand Champions 2021 - Team Pall - Credit: Ilfracombe Roundtable

Ilfracombe Round Table Chairman, Simon Robilliard, said that it was a tight contest but Pall were worthy winners. “We saw some incredibly inventive efforts on the day. Regular winners The Dairy Boys looked like they actually took flight, while the team from Okehampton Round Table performed a hilarious routine on the platform which saw them named runners-up. But the team from Pall clearly had the best overall package which wowed the judges. 

Runners-Up 2021 - Okehampton Round Table pirates

Runners-Up 2021 - Okehampton Round Table pirates - Credit: Ilfracombe Roundtable

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“Not only was their craft very impressive, but their outfits were also on theme and their descent into the water brought gasps form the crowd too! Very worthy overall champions.” 

As well as the madcap flying contest, the day saw a total of 10 live bands entertaining the crowd throughout the day, and even involved a firework finale for all to enjoy. 

Organiser Leo Cooper with Team Elf

Organiser Leo Cooper with Team Elf - Credit: Ilfracombe Roundtable

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Simon said: “It was amazing to put on an event again for the people of the town, to see everyone safely enjoying themselves outdoors. This is one of the most unique events in the UK, and we really missed it last year. It was so uplifting to see people enjoying live music again, and we’d like to say thanks to all those who helped make it possible.” 

Birdman is a free event for all to enjoy, but Simon said this is only possible thanks to the generous sponsors who help to cover the considerable costs. “This was a real community effort. We’re so grateful to everyone who supported Birdman 2021, because it had a real impact in the town, both on the day and in the future. 

Team H+L

Team H+L - Credit: Ilfracombe Roundtable

“Thanks to our main funders Fullabrook CIC, as well as headline sponsors The Techout, Ilfracombe Holiday Parks, Philip J Milton & Co, and My Favourite Cottages. Not to mention the countless others who helpd make it a success.” 

The funds raised at Birdman will help Ilfracombe Round Table support local worthy causes. “It’s too early to say precisely, but we know several thousand pounds has been raised at this year’s Birdman,” said Simon.

Crowds enjoying live music

Crowds enjoying live music - Credit: Ilfracombe Roundtable

“Ilfracombe Round Table is a registered charity, and our job is to use those funds to make a difference in the local area. Every pound will go back into to the community, supporting worthy causes who can apply for funding as of today.” 

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