The Red Arrows provided a thrilling centrepiece to the flying display on the first of the public days at the 2014 Farnborough Air Show.

The nine-aircraft elite team defied the weatherman's warning of afternoon storms, jousting around the Hampshire sky in their full aerobatic routine, to the delight of the crowds.

They followed a programme which included routines by aircraft from the pioneer days of jet aviation, as well as a display from the Breitling Wingwalkers, a nod to the 1920s barnstorming days of American aviation.

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Particularly poignant in this centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War was a mock 'dogfight' by a swarm of replica fighter planes of that era.

“This is the best dogfight display I’ve ever seen,” said Christopher Ogden, a truck driver from Maidenhead and aviation enthusiast.

“When you see those tri-planes flying about the first thought you have is 'the Red Baron', then you look over and see the A380 taking off and it reminds you how far we have come.”

The double-decker passenger giant, which has an 80m wingspan, took off to cheers from onlookers, and proceeded to execute a seemingly impossible display of tight manoeuvres relatively close to the ground.

More coverage:
Watch Red Arrows soar to the sky at Farnborough Air Show
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The two days of public access at the airport followed a five-day commercial and trade fair starting on Monday.

Shaun Ormrod, chief executive of the air show, said: “It’s been absolutely storming.

“We have broken records during the week.

“We’ve had more than $200bn of orders, which is the main thing the trade usually uses to measure success. In 2012 we had $78bn."

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Mr Ormrod said this year’s air show had hosted the prime minister, as well as "practically every" member of the cabinet.

He also said the special buy-one-get-one-free offer of tickets to all Farnborough residents had been "extremely popular".

It replaced a system used in previous years of offering free tickets to those living immediately adjacent to the airport

“We changed the offer because we realised from feedback that the impact of the show affects people much more broadly than just in the initial streets.

“We will always review these things, but I think from what I have seen [that] we will do it for many years to come.”

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As well as marvelling at the airborne entertainment, the Saturday crowd crawled over dozens of static aircraft, from an old British Army gazelle helicopter to fighter jets from across the decades.

The air show concluded with displays from the elite RAF fighter aircraft from both the past and present era, with a deafening display from the ultra-agile Eurofighter Typhoon, followed by the sonorous roar of the iconic Supermarine Spitfire.

Flight Lieutenant Andrew Purkiss of 437 Farnborough Air Cadets was manning a recruitment stand.

He said he had had dozens of expressions of interest during just the first half of the day.

“People who may never have thought about flying come here with their parents and get inspired,” he said.

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