A MILITARY air base open its doors and put on a show for families of servicemen and local residents.

RAF Northolt held its annual Families Day yesterday, complete with motorcycle display teams, acrobatic dogs, and a vast range of military aircraft on display.

The day is held each year to say thank you to the families of servicemen and to the local community, and to give them a chance to see what life on the base is really like.

Squadron leader Philip Lamb, who was in charge of organising this year's event, said: "I'm very clear that military establishments, whatever flavour they are, often seem very secretive, and we want to send the right message out to people.

"Today is an opportunity for us to say thank you to the dependents, the husbands, wives, partners, and children that support us while we go away on operations."

This is the fourth year the day has been held on the base, and the first year residents from surrounding communities in Ruislip, Northolt and Uxbridge have been invited along.

Sqn Ldr Lamb said: "We have taken the opportunity this year to encourage wider community members to come and see what goes on behind the wire.

"We do ask a lot of them, we know we make a bit of noise, this is our opportunity to say to them here we are."

Several thousand people attended the all-day event, which featured detonation displays by a specialist bomb disposal unit, music from the RAF Central Band, which is based at RAF Uxbridge, and flypasts featuring aircraft used in World War Two.

Sue O'Neill, who has been coming to the families day since it started, said: "I have come along with friends and we are having a really good time.

"It lets you know what's happening in the RAF base, which is normally quite secretive, but today you can see the helicopters flying overhead and you get an idea of what goes on."

Sqn Ldr Lamb hopes the event will continue to grow and become an important fixture in the local community calendar.

He said: "They have grown each year, and this is the biggest ones we have had so far.

"They are getting bigger and bigger and who knows where we will be next year."