Posts Tagged ‘RIAT’

Airshow ‘50th’ Book Set To Fly Off Shelves

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

Air Tattoo at 50

Over the past 50 years, millions of people from across the globe have marvelled at the incredible aviation spectacles that have seen the Royal International Air Tattoo grow to become the world’s greatest airshow.

For the first time ever, the complete history of the Air Tattoo, from its birth in 1971 to the present day, has been captured in a beautifully illustrated book written by renowned aviation journalist Ben Dunnell and features hundreds of dramatic photos, many taken by some of the world’s leading aircraft photographers.

Charting the growth of the Air Tattoo from its modest beginnings at North Weald airfield, the book describes how a small band of volunteers with a shared passion for aviation – and encouraged by legendary aviators including Battle of Britain ace Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader and Concorde test pilot Brian Trubshaw – went on to create one of the most loved and respected airshows in the world.

Split into decades, the book describes how special links forged in the 1970s with the Royal Air Force, NATO and the US Air Force (USAF) paid dividends and helped attract a mouth-watering array of international military aircraft to the airshow’s second home, RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire. The fall of the Iron Curtain in the late 1980s further cemented the Air Tattoo’s reputation as it enabled a number of special ‘debuts’ by Eastern Bloc aircraft rarely, if ever, seen in the West.

By then, hundreds of volunteers were helping stage the event, a number which grew to around 1,500 following the switch to a new home at RAF Fairford in 1985. This move, combined with the enduring support of the RAF and USAF, helped open the door to a wealth of exciting aircraft including the stealthy B-2 Spirit and F-117 Nighthawk, F-14 Tomcat carrier-borne fighters, B-52 and B-1 bombers, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotors and the latest Typhoon, F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II combat fast jets – among many others.

Author Ben Dunnell said: “The Air Tattoo has always been the place to be — and that goes right back to its earliest days. As a meeting-place for the world’s air arms, united in friendship, this show is unrivalled. What’s more, it has actively helped foster new alliances . . . as well as being a very exciting event, of course. In writing this book, that side of the Air Tattoo’s history has been as important as all the great personal memories.”

Insightful, fascinating and at times humorous, Air Tattoo 50 – The Story of the World’s Greatest Airshow (RRP £30+p&p), is being published to mark the airshow’s 50th anniversary in 2021 and is available from As well as extensive coverage of the dazzling array of international aircraft that have taken part in the airshow, the book charts some of the challenges it has had to overcome, such as losing its home at RAF Greenham Common in 1983, the death of co-founder and creative driving force Paul Bowen in 2004, establishing a new parent charity, the RAF Charitable Trust in 2005, and the airshow cancellations in 2008 and 2020.

Air Tattoo founder member and former airshow director Tim Prince said: “So many people from across the globe have been involved in the building of this remarkable gathering of international aviators and their aircraft into a highly respected and valued annual event. This wonderful book gives an insight into this impressive Royal International Air Tattoo ‘family’ which, over some 50 years, has worked tirelessly to uphold its reputation as the best, whilst at times, with its motto of ‘it can be done’, overcoming some pretty daunting challenges.”

Trust scoops inaugural innovation award at EAC

Friday, March 10th, 2017


There were celebrations all round as the RAF Charitable Trust (RAFCT) and RAF Air Cadets were presented with an award for innovation at the 2017 European Airshow Council (EAC) convention.

In recognition of their joint efforts, which are helping to inspire and encourage the next generation of aviation minded individuals, the Fairford based charity and Air Cadets were awarded with the inaugural Ann Vanderhaeghen Award for Innovation.

Andy Armstrong, Chief Executive at RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises, accepted the award on behalf of the Trust. He said: “I was delighted to accept the award alongside Commandant of the Air Cadet Organisation (ACO), Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty. Ever since the Trust was established in 2005 it has forged strong relations with the ACO, supporting a wide range of aviation-related initiatives. Through the Enterprises company, the RAFCT organises the annual Royal International Air Tattoo which provides Air Cadets with their biggest and most eagerly anticipated -summer camp each year.

“Over the years, more than £1 million has been spent supporting the Air Cadets on expeditions, through the provision of equipment and flying opportunities as well as providing sponsorships designed to inspire in them a passion for aviation.

“In 2016, the Trust provided a grant of £50,000 to fund special celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of the ACO at RAF Cranwell.

“For this work to be recognised with an award is a tremendous achievement and, as the charity looks ahead to exciting new opportunities presented by both the new Scampton Airshow and next year’s RAF centenary celebrations, the Trust can look forward to continuing to develop its relationship with the ACO, providing even more opportunities to youngsters.”

Each year EAC organisers give out three major awards. The Ann Vanderhaeghen Award was introduced in 2017 to celebrate innovation and recognise the working partnership between organisations. EAC Chairman Gilbert Buekenberghs said: “Ann’s enthusiasm, positive approach and support made her well-respected in the Airshow community.”

The RAF Charitable Trust funds a wide range of projects and initiatives that Promote the Royal Air Force, Support its people and Encourage young people to take an interest in aviation. The Royal International Air Tattoo (14-16 July) is staged annually at RAF Fairford in aid of the Trust and, new for 2017, the Scampton Airshow (9-10 September) has been set up to raise funds for the Trust. To find out more about the RAFCT visit

Air Tattoo is Full of Eastern Promise

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Eastern European airpower will take centre stage in the Cotswolds this summer when two of the world’s most potent fighter aircraft take to the skies for one of the UK’s biggest outdoor events – the Royal International Air Tattoo. 

Airshow organisers have just added a legendary Mikoyan MiG-29, from the Polish Air Force, and a SAAB JAS-39 Gripen from the Hungarian Air Force to the seven-and-a-half hour flying display programme, which takes place at RAF Fairford on July 20-21.

The Russian-built MiG-29 is a giant among modern-day combat jets, combining supreme power and agility with remarkable versatility. Developed in the mid-1970s, in response to a rapid stream of highly-capable new fighters emerging from the US and Europe, the MiG-29 made its first flight in 1977 and joined the then Soviet Air Force six years later. It has since been acquired by many other nations, several of them in Eastern Europe including Poland.

The MiG-29 can fly at approximately Mach 2.25, or almost 1,500 miles per hour, and it can operate at an altitude of over 59,000ft. The delta-winged JAS-39 Gripen is one of the world’s most advanced fighters having been designed to replace the SAAB 35 Draken and 37 Viggen in the Swedish Air Force.

Both aircraft will line up against other fighters such as the Typhoon, Tornado and F-16 in the flying display which also features a wide range of large transporters, helicopters, historic warbirds such as the Vulcan and aerobatic display teams including the RAF Red Arrows.

Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said: “The Air Tattoo’s reputation has been built on attracting exciting aircraft from former Soviet Bloc countries. These countries, many of which are now our NATO allies,remain among the most eagerly anticipated and popular participants at our airshow.”

In July, the Air Tattoo will unveil a package of initiatives designed to make the visitor experience even more enjoyable. These include new Service Stations, featuring food courts, free wi-fi hubs, information booths, merchandise outlets, street entertainment, seating and a shaded area providing cover. There will also be three new exciting themed areas called the Adrenalin Zone, Techno Zone and the Vintage Village.

The Royal International Air Tattoo takes place at RAF Fairford on July 20-21. For a full list of all the visitor opportunities and to purchase tickets, visit or call 0800 107 1940.All under-16s go free. Free parking.

Air Tattoo To Salute Dambusters

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

The 70th anniversary of one of the Second World War’s most audacious bombing missions will be commemorated by a special flypast at this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in the Cotswolds.

The announcement comes on the same day (May 16) in 1943that the RAF’s elite 617 Sqn took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshireand headed for Germany’s Ruhr dams for what was to become known as the legendary Dambusters Raid.

The attack was made memorable for using specially developed ‘bouncing bombs’, invented by aircraft designer Barnes Wallis. These were dropped from Lancaster bombers at low altitude and skipped along the surface of the water into the dams.

Whilst the mission to flood the heavily industrialised area of the Ruhr and destroy the dams’ hydro-electric power capability is now considered to have been only a partial success, the bravery and audacity of those involved assured its place in military aviation history.

Today (Thursday, May 16), to mark the anniversary, the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) Lancaster and two Tornado GR4s from 617 Sqnwill fly over Derwent Reservoirin Derbyshire and Eyebrook Reservoir in the East Midlands, both of which were used for low level flying practice by the original Dambusters crews.

At this summer’s Air Tattoo, which takes place on July 20-21, the BBMF Lancaster, one of only two in the world that are still airworthy, will once again fly alongside a specially painted,modern day Tornado GR4 from the legendary 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron.

Air Tattoo Chief Executive Tim Prince said: “The Dambusters Raid was an incredible feat not only in terms of what it was aiming to achieve but also in the way in which it was looking to achieve it.

“The courage and skill of all those involved served as an inspiration to a nation ravaged by war and this courage and skill lives on in the men and women of today’s 617 Squadron who help provide vital protection to allied ground forces in Afghanistan.”

A second specially painted Tornado GR4 will be on display in the Air Tattoo’s static aircraft park offering visitors the opportunity to see it close up.

The Royal International Air Tattoo takes place at RAF Fairford on July 20-21. For a full list of all the visitor opportunities and to purchase tickets, visit or call 0800 107 1940.All under-16s go free. Free parking.

Air Tattoo Unveils Show Makeover

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

This summer will see the Royal International Air Tattoo unveil a package of initiatives designed to make the world’s greatest airshow even more enjoyable for the thousands of people who flock to the Cotswolds each year for this unique celebration of aviation.

New Visitor Service Stations, themed areas and a variety of other enhancements in the showground are being introduced to ensure that all the thrilling aerial action is matched by an equally-enjoyable customer experience on the ground.

Visitors to the Air Tattoo, which takes place on July 20-21, will be invited to try out three new Service Stations, which have been designed to bring together everything needed for a great day out including food courts, free wi-fi hubs, information booths, toilets, official merchandise outlets, banking services, street entertainment, seating and a shaded area providing cover.

Organisers believe improved signage on the showground, greater access to aircraft, participating pilots/aircrew and new enclosure opportunities will add further to people’s enjoymentwhilst at RAF Fairford.

Air Tattoo Chief Executive Tim Prince said many of the initiatives have been introduced in response to feedback from visitors who said that with so much happening in the air and on the ground during the day it was a challenge to take in all that was happening and where everything was.

Mr Prince said: “Of course the aircraft are the stars of the show but we also recognise that the showground’s a big area and there’s lots going on over the weekendso it can be a bit daunting. We started bygathering together many of the facilities people useduring the day into three strategically-located Service Stations.

“We’ve also extended the range of catering options in these areas so visitors can now enjoy vegetarian and Asian cuisine – plus deli bars – alongside the traditional burger and fish & chip options.

“We’ve looked at everything we do in terms of delivering customer satisfaction from the journey to the airshow, the event itself and the departure phase. We’re confident visitors will welcome the enhancements we’ve introduced.”

July will also see the Air Tattoo unveil three new entertainment zones on the showground: the Techno Zone, the Toys For Boys Zone and the Vintage Village each offering a range of exciting ground-based attractions and hands’ on activities courtesy of leading brands such as Caterham and Animal.

Mr Prince said: “Most people knowthatour event isone of the greatest aviation spectacles in the world but there is so much more to the Air Tattoo experiencethan just that – and this summer we’re going to prove it!”

The Royal International Air Tattoo takes place at RAF Fairford on July 20-21. Special Earlybird tickets, priced from £35, are available until April 4. All under-16s go free. Free parking.For a full list of all the visitor opportunities and to purchase tickets, visit or call 0800 107 1940.

Air Tattoo Is On Top Of The World

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

One of the most widely-read newspapers in the United States has featured the Royal International Air Tattoo among its top 10 best airshows in the world.

USA Today, which has more than 2 million readers, listed the Air Tattoo alongside other aviation events in Canada, Germany, Florida and Nevada.

It stated: “The Royal International Air Tattoo should top your list of must-see events. RIAT includes in-air performances, two miles of stationary aircraft to check out and interactive activities for visitors of all ages.”

The full list is: Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford, Gloucestershire; Florida International Air Show, US; EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Wisconsin, US; Sun ‘n’ Fun International Fly-in, Florida, US; Tannkosh, Germany; Reno Air Races, Nevada, US; Miramar Air Show, San Diego, US; Abbotsford Airshow, Canada; Great Tennessee Air Show, US; Bournemouth Air Festival, UK.

Earlier this year, a leading UK aviation website – UK Airshow Review – announced that the Air Tattoo had provided six of the Top 10 airshow moments of 2012.

Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said it was great to know that the Air Tattoo’s reputation stretches across the Atlantic and is recognised as a truly global event not only by aircraft enthusiasts but also by the wider public.

He added: “Our aim is to create a memorable family day out that blends all the thrills of a seven-hour flying display with an exciting range of interactive entertainment on the ground.”

Tickets for this summer’s Air Tattoo, which takes place at RAF Fairford on July 20-21, can be purchased online at or by calling the Ticketline on 0800 107 1940.


Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

From the Vulcan to the Red Arrows, the Lancaster to the Typhoon, all the action from this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo flying display have been captured on an exciting new DVD released this week.

The official Air Tattoo 2011 DVD features displays by many of the world’s greatest aircraft as they perform on one of aviation’s greatest stages. Highlights include the USAF A-10, the, the Frecce Tricolori, Team Viper and the RAF’s Tornado GR4 Role Demo.

There is also the opportunity to see just why Maj Murat Keles, pilot of the Turkish Air Force F-16; Capt Michael Brocard, the French Air Force Rafale display pilot; and the crew of the Italian C-27J Spartan, took top honours at this summer’s Air Tattoo’s flying display awards. Stunning in-cockpit footage offers the viewer a pilot’s-eye-view of many of the displays as aircraft twist and turn above RAF Fairford to the delight of thousands of spectators.

Altogether, 219 aircraft, representing 27 air arms and 17 nations took part in RIAT 2011 and among those featured on the DVD are some of the ‘stars’ on static display including the rarely-seen Ukrainian Su-27 ‘Flanker’ and the debut appearance of the RAF’s future strategic tanker aircraft – the A330 ‘Voyager’.

With narration by one of the UK’s most respected aviation journalists and Air Tattoo commentator, Ben Dunnell, the official RIAT 2011 DVD provides an informed, entertaining and occasionally moving insight into the modern military mindset.

Air Tattoo Chief Executive Tim Prince said: “Even for the seasoned enthusiast, it can be hard to take in all the action the Air Tattoo has to offer. Our official DVD is an opportunity to fully appreciate the sheer power, agility and operational capabilities of many of the world’s greatest aircraft – both past and present.”

Sold in support of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, the official RIAT 2011 DVD is priced £16.95 and can be ordered online at or by calling 0800 297 1940.

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Friday, November 11th, 2011

Tickets for next summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo go on sale today with prices not only frozen but – for a limited period – lower than they were this year.

A limited number of special ‘Super Earlybird’ tickets for the July 7-8 event go on sale at 10am on Friday, November 11, priced £29 each. This represents a saving of £10 on the standard 2012 advance admission ticket price – and is £5 cheaper than this year. The £4 book fee has also been waived.An Air Tattoo spokesman said: “Next July will see us stage an RAF tribute to Her Majesty the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee and we want as many people as possible to join in this special celebration.

“Not only can people make a huge saving by purchasing tickets now, but we will also continue to offer free parking and allow all accompanied under-16s free entry. At a time when many of us are counting the pennies, we were determined to ensure the Air Tattoo continues to offer families value for money.”

Organisers are urging people to note that next summer’s Air Tattoo, which is staged in support of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, takes place earlier than usual, on July 7-8, because of the London Olympics later that month.

The spokesman said: “Like the Olympics, we’ll be featuring the fastest, the most agile and those with the greatest endurance – albeit in the world of aerospace rather than sport.”

The limited number of Super Earlybird tickets go on sale at 10am on Friday, November 11 from or by calling 0800 107 1940. They will be on sale until January 4, subject to availability.

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Crews Share Honours at Air Tattoo

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Honours were evenly distributed at this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, with just one crew – the C-27J Spartan from the Italian Air Force – scooping two prizes.

The winners were announced at the traditional end to the event, the Sunday Night Hangar Party, when Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire, Chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, opened proceedings by thanking everyone for their contributions to RIAT 2011.

Sir John thanked all the air crews for creating “two days of stunning flying displaying, not withstanding the very difficult weather conditions” and paid special tribute to the Patrulla Aguila from Spain who were unable to fly on either day: “We hope they’ll be back next year and that the weather will allow them to show off their talents,” he concluded.

Air Cde Nigel Wharmby of the Air Tattoo’s Flying Control Committee commented on the professionalism shown by everyone, especially the Spanish display team, and made special mention of the Air Training Corps. “The display with training aircraft and gliders was truly remarkable given that the wind and weather made conditions phenomenally difficult,” he said, adding: “I salute you.”

This year the top award, the King Hussein Memorial Sword – presented in memory of the late HM King Hussein of Jordan, Patron of the International Air Tattoo (1983-1989) for the Best Overall Flying Demonstration – went to Maj Murat Keles, flying the F-16C “Solo Turk” from 141st Sqn, Turkish Air Force.

Maj Keles said: “I am very happy. It is wonderful to receive this award in the first year of our display and in the same year as we celebrate 100 years of the Turkish Air Force.”

The sword was presented by Major General Malek Habashnah, Commander Royal Jordanian Air Force, on behalf of HRH Lt Gen Prince Faisal.

The Paul Bowen Trophy – presented in memory of The Royal International Air Tattoo co-founder Paul Bowen for the Best Solo Jet Demonstration – went to Capt Michael “Mikael” Brocard flying the Rafale C from EC01.007, French Air Force. The trophy was presented by Tim Prince, Director of the Air Tattoo and Chief Executive of the RAFCTE.

Capt Brocard said: “This is my first time at the Air Tattoo and my first display outside France this year, so to receive this award is fantastic. I hope I can return next year.”

The Sir Douglas Bader Trophy – for the 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.

Alan Smith, Chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises, presented the trophy to the winning crew. Maj De Luca said: “This is so unexpected and an immense pleasure. I’m so pleased for myself and the entire team – it’s the greatest honour we can have.”

Seconds after receiving the Sir Douglas Bader Trophy, the same team were back on stage to be presented with the As the Crow Flies Trophy, voted for by the Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo, and presented by Fred Crawley, Trustee of the RAF Charitable Trust.

Maj De Luca added: “We weren’t expecting to succeed so to get two exceptional gifts from the organisation is a great honour. It’s very not expected!”

Gp Capt Geoff Brindle, whose Air Tattoo roles have included Lightning Display Pilot and Flying Display Director, presented The Lockheed Martin Cannestra Trophy – awarded by Lockheed Martin for the Best Flying Demonstration by an overseas participant – to Maj Roland “Wally” Blankenspoor and Capt Paul “Wokkel” Webbink, flying the Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64D Apache.

Maj Blankenspoor commented: “This is a real honour for the whole team, and I’m very proud of them all. This is not our regular job, performing as a display team, so I’m proud of the whole crew: it’s a nice reward for the team.”

The Steedman Display Sword – presented by The Royal International Air Tattoo in memory of the late Air Chief Marshal Sir Alasdair Steedman, Chairman of the International Air Tattoo (1981-1988), for the Best Flying Demonstration by a UK participant – was awarded to Mark Bowman flying the BAE Systems Typhoon FGR4.

Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire presented the sword to BAE Systems Test Pilot Mark Bowman who said: “This award is testament to the efforts of the company and all the groundcrew that made the display possible.”

And finally, the Best Livery award went to Maj Ingo Heinle and Capt Rene Lorgen of JBG 32, German Air Force with their Tornado ECR. They received the award from Gardiner Porter, Senior Manager, Military Global Sales for Jeppesen. Maj Heinle said: “The award belongs to the designer of our scheme, Joey. Thank you very much on his behalf.”

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Ukrainians Reflect on Show Return

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

The Ukrainian Air Force say they have been delighted to be back at this weekend’s Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.The air arm was last present at the Air Tattoo in 2000 when the event took place at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland: prior to that they’d appeared at Fairford in 1999, having made their Air Tattoo debut in 1996.

Now, in the 40th-anniversary year of the show, the Ukrainians have returned bringing two stars of the static display with them: the Sukhoi Su-27 and a giant Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane.

Lt Gen Sergii Onyschenko of the Ukrainian Air Force said he was delighted his Air Force could be represented at the show. He said: “I am very proud that our Air Force could take part in this world famous airshow.

Gen Onyschenko first visited the UK when he was a student at the General Staff College in Ukraine, and said he took home many memories. “Britain and Ukraine have a very good close relationship and it will continue with visits like this,” he said.

While at the Air Tattoo, Gen Onyschenko met Prince Michael of Kent and Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton: the special guests were shown around the aircraft and invited to sit in the Su-27.

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