THE rain came and the runway remained closed, but the Abingdon Air and Country Show still got off the ground today.

Organisers of the show at Abingdon Airfield, Dalton Barracks, were forced to reorganise the event at short notice when they failed to get permission from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for fixed-wing aircraft to use the main runway.

It meant the show’s popular static display of 80 old and new aircraft had to be cancelled because the planes could not land.

As a result, committee members extended the length of the flying display in a bid to compensate customers.

Organiser Neil Porter said: “This is our 11th year and we have never had a problem with the use of the runway before, so we are very disappointed that we can’t host the usual static display.

“We are not sure why the decision was made and we would like the problem to be rectified before next year.

“The bad weather has not helped us either, so we expect the attendance to fall from the usual 10,000 to about 7,000.”

The show was again raising money for the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance, based at RAF Benson. Last year’s made £7,000 for the charity.

Computer programmer Will Stanley, 41, and wife Jeannie, 40, from Iffley Fields, Oxford, brought their two boys, Dominic, six, and Ted, four, to see helicopters on display, including a Black Hawk from the United States Army, based in Belgium.

Mr Stanley said: “We went to Fairford air show in Gloucestershire last year and you could not really get near any of the aircraft.

“It is a bit more relaxed and homespun here and you can have a good look round the cockpits.

“The boys have really enjoyed it and for £32 it’s a good day out for the whole family.”

John Whittaker, 77, and wife Joyce, who lives on the Ladygrove estate in Didcot, arrived at the show at about 1pm.

Mrs Whittaker said: “We saw the planes flying over so we thought we would come along to take a closer look.

“When we have been in previous years, there were long queues of traffic trying to get onto the airfield but we couldn’t see any today.

“It’s definitely a lot quieter than last year, but it is still a good air show and a good day out.”

Claire and Graham White, from Caversham, brought daughters Lucy, six, and Ellie, four, for a day out at the airbase.

As the girls enjoyed a ride on some Mini-jeeps, Mrs White said: “It is not too expensive and I think it is a good day out – definitely worth the trip from Caversham.

Colin Smith, a spokesman for the air show, said: “The refusal of permission to use the runway came through from the Ministry of Defence quite late but we have still managed to put on a good show.

“We were delighted to get the Dutch F-16 fighter this year for the air display because we have been trying to get it for years.”