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Royal International Air Tattoo 2015


The Royal International Air Tattoo held at RAF Fairford has long been seen as one of the largest military air shows in the world. Air arms from across the globe have supported the show ever since it began back in the early 70’s. This year saw the show’s first year with new man, Andy Armstrong at the helm. From a quick glance at the participation list, you could see he’d done a great job of securing some brilliant participants.

This year saw the change of a half day airshow to a full day on the Friday. I really like the format as it gave a nice little taster of what was to come in the next few days. I’ve always found RIAT quite hard to see everything. I like to see the whole airshow and have always missed the static’s. With this new Friday format, I found I got the chance to wander round a lot more without missing the main event.

With this year being the 75th anniversary of the Battle Of Britain, it was only right that RIAT celebrated this too. It’s not just a military show, The mass formation of Spitfires, Hurricane’s a Blenheim, Buchon and a Messererscmitt (albeit converted Buchon) 109 were a sight to behold. As was the Typhoon, Spitfire duo. It was lovely to see the Baby Spit and Typhoon flying together.

A welcomed return to this year was the increased US participation. It’s been rather thin the last few years but 2015 saw the return of A10 Warthogs. They were Only in the static but luckily I was there for the arrivals days and caught them on landing. A great display by the CV-22 Osprey was the only American demo in the show. There were a couple of F-15’s from Lakenheath, a KC-135 Tanker from Mildenhall and a P-8 Poseidon from the US Navy. Also, very nice to see were a pair of helicopters from the US Army. The Apache and Black hawk (medivac), flew in together on the Wednesday.

One of the undoubted stars of the show (and there were many) Was a Kawasaki P1 from the JMSDF. Many grumbles were heard that the display was too short and too many undersides but I was really impressed by this aircraft. Could it be a serious contender for the UK??

Unfortunately, I was not at RIAT on the Saturday but all talk was about ‘That Vulcan take-off’ Apparently it was very impressive and although Sunday’s was a little more sedate, I was none the less surprised. I am not a Vulcan fan but I really cannot commend the display enough. With this being the last year of the Vulcan, the team are really wringing out the power. The Flypast with the RAF’s Red Arrows was beautiful, but the climb out at the end of it’s solo was……..Sublime. Lots of power, noise and an almost vertical climb was absolutely inspired.

France also made a nice contribution to this years show. Although not as big as some years, We were treated to a UK first display of Ramex Delta, a two-ship of Mirage aircraft. From what I hear, Saturdays display was awesome. Unfortunately, Technical gremlins put paid to Sunday’s display. We did however get a Mirage solo.
The Eastern bloc was also well covered in 2015. A truly amazing take-off from a Polish Mig 29 was one of the big topics of conversation. It was a case of just pulling up the wheels and going virtually the length of the runway before lifting!!! In the static was a single Polish SU-22 and a PZL M28 Brysza. My favourite Helicopter display this year was definitely another Eastern European. The Czech airforce MI-35 demo was excellent. It really showed of the agility of this latest incarnation of the ever aging Hind. Complete with smoke winders, the display was very dynamic and brought back memories of older times. The Czech’s also supplied an Aero L159a for the flying display.
On the topic of helicopters, The British Armies Apache role demo was another highlight. I was place in the wrong spot to make the most of the pyrotechnics for my photo’s, but it was a great insight into the role of the Apache in an attack situation. Another worthy mention is the RAF’s Hawk T.2 demo. Again, some impressive pyro’s gave a dynamic insight into the Hawk training programme. With all the explosions, I’m sure it inspired a few young’ens into dreaming of being the futures pilots.
Aerobatics were covered by the RAF’s Red Arrows, Swiss Pc-7 team Patrouille De France (Saturday only) and a rare appearance of the Spanish Aerobatic team, The Patrulla Aguilla. On the topic of the Spaniards, they also sent a pair of rarely seen F5 ‘s for the static.
Another debut and a very welcomed display was the Hellenic Airforce F-16 demo ‘Zeus’. This has go to to be one of the best F-16 paint jobs around at the moment. Although not as aggressive and dynamic as the Belgian air components F-16 display, It was very nice to see. For me , the best display did come from the Belgian’s F-16 display. A mixture of Full power and amazing manoeuvrability definitely gave the display top honours in my opinion.
On the whole, I think this has been a ‘classic’ Riat. The ground attractions were well thought out, the show ground well laid out and the airshow….a complete sell-out!!! I really enjoyed this years Royal International Air Tattoo…
Review by Neil Darby
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