IT was an incredible spectacle that drew gasps from the crowds as they looked to the skies in awe.
Seventy years after the aircraft helped to fight for our freedom, they roared along the Solent and delighted the thousands of people who huddled together on the seafront at Lee-on-the-Solent.
The fly-past was the first of many commemorative events that will be taking place across the Portsmouth area and across the Channel to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
There was a carnival atmosphere in the town throughout the afternoon as patriotic red, white and blue adorned shop windows and vintage military vehicles drove through the streets.
But there was also a deep respect for what everyone had come to pay tribute to – the bravery of those men on that June morning in 1944.
The display included the RAF’s Lancaster, Spitfires and Dakota and the Royal Navy’s Sea Fury, which came in low to give everyone a good view.
Debbie Watts, 53, of Edgecombe Crescent, Gosport, dressed up as an army sergeant and cheered and clapped as she watched.
‘It’s been fabulous,’ she said. ‘You are never going to get this again at Lee-on-the-Solent. It makes me feel so proud to be British.’
John Hopgood, 55, of Waveney Close, Lee-on-the-Solent, said: ‘It was nice to see them up close. It’s rare to see these types of planes flying now.’
Debs Crowther, 47, who is in the RAF and lives in Lee-on-the-Solent, said: ‘It had an impact – everybody was incredibly impressed by it.’
West Summers, 75, from Louisiana, USA, who is off to France to join the commemorations, said: ‘It was very professional and exciting.
‘From a historical point of view, it was interesting and I enjoyed it.’
Gosport’s MP Caroline Dinenage struggled to keep her eyes dry.
‘It was just incredible to see these old aircraft in action and still looking spectacular,’ she said. ‘I found it emotional – I had the goosebumps. I was standing next to one of the veterans, this incredibly proud, very old man. It really was poignant.’
She added: ‘Not only are we so proud of our heritage, but I am so proud of the residents of Lee-on-the-Solent today who have put on this incredible spectacle.’
Janet Parrett from Lee-on-the-Solent, was celebrating her 71st birthday.
‘It’s been a fantastic birthday,’ she said. ‘What else could you wish for?’
The display finished with a haze of red bursting into the sky as biodegradable poppies were released.
Visitors were given a warm welcome by the people of Lee-on-the-Solent, with shops and cafes staying open late.
Catherine Wassell, 37, from Elson, said: ‘This is the biggest turnout I have ever seen. It’s amazing and there’s a good atmosphere.’
Lynn Martin, 53, from Paulsgrove, said: ‘It’s great everybody is joining in. It feels really special.’