After the recent success and celebrations of the RAF100 London Fly Past and the arrival of the Royal Air Force’s new F-35B Lightning fighter aircraft, the Royal International Air tattoo (RIAT) was officially launched by a ceremonial parade, a ceremony that was broadcast live to TV channels around the world.
The Queen’s Colour Squadron and Central Band of the Royal Air Force marched past their Royal Highnesses, The Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent, and the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Hillier. The Parade was commanded by Squadron Leader Ben Alcock, whilst Flying Officer Joseph Sentence escorted the Colour – a light-blue silk square flag, embellished with mixed blue and white tassels, the Royal Cipher, the Union Flag and three roundels. Music was provided by the Central band of the Royal Air Force. In total, four Officers / SNCOs and 104 Gunners from 63 Squadron RAF Regiment and 45 musicians took part in the Parade.
Following the parade, a Royal Review took place; HRH the Duke of Kent reviewed RAF aircraft and met veterans in the Vintage, and HRH Prince Michael of Kent toured aircraft from the Ukrainian Air Force and the United States Air Force from around the world. The Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, the Veterans’ Minister, toured the RAF Experience and the Techno Zone.
An RAF flypast of 50 aircraft to commemorate the RAF’s Centenary was, sadly, cancelled due to poor weather at the time it was due to take place. However, the forecast is far better for Saturday and Sunday’s flypasts. Visitors to the Tattoo will be treated to various “themed flypasts” to celebrate RAF100, which will include a range of aircraft from the new Stealth F-35B Lightning and Typhoon, to RAF planes of the past, including s special “617 Squadron Tribute” comprising the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster, a Tornado GR4 and a new Lightning.
On the ground there is a large area dedicated to RAF100 where visitors will be able to see aircraft from the RAF, past, present and future. They can also meet serving personnel to learn more about the wide variety of jobs and roles to be found in the service.
Visitors waiting under perfect blue skies for flying to start on Saturday
This year has a record number of overseas aircraft flying-in. 30 national air forces or air-arms (such as army air or coastguards) are already confirmed. Many of the Commonwealth Countries are represented. Examples include the US Air Force who will be flying their F-35A Lightning II alongside the historic P-51D Mustang (from the US Air Force Heritage Flight), as well as the first visit to the Air Tattoo of a Japanese Air Self Defence Force Kawasaki C-2 transporter: this rare aircraft will be joining the static display. An up to date list of confirmed aircraft to be seen at this year’s Tattoo may be seen at:
(Though please bear in mind that aircraft participation is, as always, subject to operational commitments, technical issues, crew availability, weather conditions and other factors. )
Photo: Airshow Review
The RAF Charitable Trust Enterprise Chief Executive Andy Armstrong said: “The Air Tattoo is renowned for staging unique and memorable aerial set pieces to mark special anniversaries. The RAF Centenary is extra special – so we are delighted that our visitors will see something “extra special” in the skies above RAF Fairford this summer.”
Photo: UK Airshow review
Tickets for Sunday are still available to purchase – for more info and to purchase tickets, goto: www.airtattoo.com