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RIAT -- Royal International Air Tattoo July 16-17

Location: RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, UK.
Admission: Varies, kids under 16 free when accompanied by an adult ticket holder.
Parking: FREE
Value: Excellent if the weather is cooperating!
The Russian-built Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker was the aircraft every enthusiast wanted to see, and it didn't disappoint, flying in from Ukraine accompanied by a giant Ilyushin il-76 transport plane before going on static display.
One of the largest air shows in Europe, (as air shows go, and not EXPO or Trade show type such as Paris or Farnborough) this year once again. With performances lasting 8 hours per day, the air show is held annually in July at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire. This year in total, 219 aircraft took part in the Air Tattoo, representing 17 nations. Approximately 138,000 people attended over the two days, which was down about 10% from last year.
Admission pricing varies, but to attend RIAT, by North American standards, is quite expensive. In someway, the costs are somewhat similar to Oshkosh, however, RIAT, in our opinion is a far superior show and a better value over all. Even if one just buys the most economical tickets it can add up quickly. Thus the question arises is it worth it? Absolutely YES!
Warning: Tickets MUST be purchased ahead! One cannot buy tickets to the air show during the event on site! This means that one takes a gamble that the weather will be good enough and it will not be cancelled due to weather. There are no refunds due to rain. FYI, it was cancelled in 2008, due to bad weather.
This year, the RIAT was celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Air Tattoo itself, thus it was a special event. The famous Tiger squadrons (NATO and otherwise) were invited to participate as static and flying displays, as they celebrated their own 50th year anniversary, earlier this year in France at the NATO Tiger Meet. Unfortunately, due to the Libyan conflict several nations couldn´t accept the invitation. At RAF Fairford one could see the Vulcan bomber performing, one of the most iconic warbirds of the Cold War era, USAF A-10 West Demo Team, WWII Lancaster bomber, French Rafale C, with the latest RAF aircraft in one event.
Both days saw participants pulling out all the stops to entertain with some superb flying, one of the highlights being the Hawker Hunter 60th Anniversary flypast with the veteran aircraft turning out to mark the 40th anniversary of the Air Tattoo itself. And making their UK debut, the Saudi Hawks display team lived up to expectations with an impressive performance. The Russian-built Sukhoi Su-27 "Flanker" was the aircraft every enthusiast wanted to see, and it didn't disappoint, flying in from the Ukraine accompanied by a giant Ilyushin IL-76 transport plane before going on static display.
Prior to Saturday and after Sunday, there were possibilities to watch the arrival or leaving, of aircraft to and from RIAT. One must have Park&View tickets for these. However these can be bought at the gates. Buying them ahead one can save a bit. The Park&View gets very crowded quickly, and once again one must come very early to secure a good spot for viewing or photography. Comfortable walking shoes, ear protection against noise, and water proof clothing and protection for any camera gear is highly recommended.
The RIAT is a very large event and spreads out on a very large airfield. It has its own radio broadcast during the show and as mentioned it has its own bus service. It is a very clean and well planned layout with plenty of facilities, and food vendors. Pricing for food varied from vendor to vendor: fish&chips were £8.00, some roast pork or beef was £4.50, water or pop were £1.00 to £1.50. There were a lot of other vendors hawking all kinds of items from model planes, toys, clothing, souvenirs to perfumes! There were plenty of activities for kids and of course100+ plus of static aircraft to view.
The weather, well what one can say about the British weather: it rained both days in the morning, and improved towards the afternoon, with the airshow closing in sunshine with a thrilling finale by the Breitling Jet Team, performing a unique flypast with their fellow Breitling Wingwalking Team.
  • The Best Overall Flying Demonstration - went to Maj Murat Keles, flying the F-16C "Solo Turk" from 141 st Sqn, Turkish Air Force.
  • Best Solo Jet Demonstration – went to Capt Michael "Mikael" Brocard flying the Rafale C from EC01.007, French Air Force.
  • Best Individual Flying Display – went to Maj Severino De Luca, Maj Francesco Ferreri and Chf Master Sgt Ugo Sabeni from Reparto Sperimentale Volof of the Italian Air Force, flying the C-27J Spartan.
  • Best Flying Demonstration by a UK participant – was awarded to Mark Bowman flying the BAE Systems Typhoon FGR4.
  • Best Livery award went to Maj Ingo Heinle and Capt Rene Lorgen of JBG 32, German Air Force with their Tornado ECR.
Over all, RIAT was a worthwhile and splendid event, if somewhat expensive when compared to North American air shows, (not taking travel cost into consideration, just only the cost of attending the event). The weather certainly had a major effect on the show. We would highly recommended attending this show for any aviation enthusiast!
Major Aircraft/Performers Presented:
  • Red Arrows Display Team
  • USAF A-10 West Demo Team
  • USN Mercury E-6B
  • Austrian Saab J105 OE Tiger 50
  • Belgian F-16AM Tiger 50
  • Apache Solo Demo Team from Holland
  • Belgian F-16 A MLU
  • Saudi Hawk Aerobatic Team
  • Ukrainian Su-27
  • JAS39C Gripen Swedish Air Force
  • Vulcan XH558 bomber
  • and too many others to list.
Rating: 9.25 out of 10
At RAF Fairford one could see the Vulcan bomber performing, one of the most iconic warbirds of the Cold War era.
Danish F-16
Ukrainian Su-27
Saudi C-130
Review by AIRSHOWSREVIEW LLC. Photography by Peter Thivessen or as noted.
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