What were your highlights and disappointments from this years Royal International Air Tattoo?
Is there anybody out there?
Always difficult to be objective when your feet still hurt and your skin feels tight, but a few observations to get things started. Generally I thought that the show was a success, as usual a lot of effort rewarded with a geat experience on show days.
I think that they just about got away with the aircraft on display this time, there was a good selection overall, with a few stars to keep the enthusiasts happy, like the Indians, a good range of USAF aircraft, the Brazilian AEW was a very unusual visitor. There were a lot of ex. Russian types and other gems like the Turkish F5s. Personally I never worry about what did not turn up, I just judge it on what is there. Numbers of pure military aircraft are creeping down every year,understandably, the static numbers were noticeably down this year, I can do without the types such as Austers and even ultra lights being used to bulk out static parks, there were 2 whole lumps of the static that did nothing for me personally. The Tattoo is still advertised as the biggest military show, buying in 2 Dakotas doesn't really fool anyone.
The organisation is much more customer friendly these days, the bus service is excellent, and can save miles of walking. Toilets are kept much cleaner, and the food stalls are plentiful and actually quite well priced and policed, I saw one getting a really good inspection, prices and cleanliness were being checked carefully on Saturday morning. The whole tone is better than some years ago, we actually get treated as customers, not as a neccessary evil. Staff are so much more friendly and helpful. Prices will always be an issue, but the value for money is not far out, look at the prices of other, comparable events now, and the prices are pretty good, see Legoland for £33......
The flying display was long and good quality, with lots of interesting items, few of which drag (does anyone like the biplanes with someone on the wing??!!). The Thunderbirds were excellent in my view, so much crisper than some years ago. I missed the RAF display at the end to dodge traffic, I was told that it was excellent.
Traffic arrangements seemed to work, I rolled in Saturday morning, barely stopping at 07.30. There were queues towards Cirencester on Saturday, but what do you expect if you leave for the Tattoo at 09.30?? Unlike Waddington, they had not been over-confident about the effects of rain, the parking fields were covered in straw, even by Monday they were holding up.
On the down side, as a photographer, I have one major gripe. Yet again the static was set out really badly for those who want to take photographs. Even as a family type visitor I would have felt let down. We have a collection of interesting visitors jammed into small enclosures, showing no sympathy or understanding of what visitors want, and have paid for.
Once again many of the aircraft were aligned north-south, so they are always tail on to the sun when most visitors get to them to take photos. This was discussed years ago, and we had lines of fighters put at an angle so they were photgraphable for large parts of the day, but we have slipped back to the bad old days of jamming fighters into small enclosures. We still have good visitors that can only be photographed with fairgrounds in the background, you are left with the feeling, why bother bringing the aircraft if you are not going to display it properly. The organisers still seem to be slipping back to thinking of the Tattoo as a giant fairground and market, rather than an airshow first. I know all the old discussions about families being the bread and butter etc, but this year more than ever there seemed to be moreaircraft enthusiasts than families present, and nearly everybody has a digital camera these days. Rant over...
From a 'spotters' point of view this was an excellent year - especially if you hadn't been to Waddington for the Indians (I had!!).
One thing that constantly surprises and pleases me is the efforts made by the organisers and the Air Arms to keep the actual aircraft they send (by serial) different - with the obvious exception of the US Navy Mercury.
Highlights for me, personally, were the Jayhawk and the Italian HH.3s but, of course, my last Belgian Seaking (after 22 years searching) was excellent. The Brazillians, Greek C.130 (pity about the A7s) and the Turkish F.5s also added to a great mix. Others gems were the return of the F.117s and the German F.4s. As usual, the B.52 and B.1 were brilliant but - on the Sunday - I thought the F.16 dispaly opener was excellent.
Disappointments - no Pakistan P.3 ot Spanish Harriers, but if we hadn't thought they were coming, we wouldn't have missed them. Expected a little more historice stuff for the USAF 60th and where was the RAF - no heavies at all ! I know that we have enormous overseas commitments, problems with finances and operability but..........
Anyway, congratulations to all who pulled it together - yet another unrivalled show - roll on next year.
I enjoyed this years RIAT very much. There were some gems in the static and of course a very polished display by the Thunderbirds.
The parking for all days was well thought out by the organizers. With use of the ammo dump at Kempsford end and the B-52 ramp at Marston Meysey end on the arrivals/departures days. Thus keeping the fields free for the airshow days.
A few gripes:- Indian Ilyushin. The only way to get a decent photo of the Ilyushin was from the shuttle bus (an excellent service which should have been introduced a long time ago).
I think the organization of the funfairs need to be looked at, certainly where the German F-4's were concerned. Maybe reserve a specific area for this away from the static, for issues of everybody's enjoyment.
Enough of my woes.
Overall, a job well done by the organizers and I look forward to next years tattoo.
I attended my first RIAT on Saturday and as well as being blessed with pretty clear and warm weather,i was very impressed with the event overall. The shuttle buses worked well, there was plenty on offer and i (on the main) was impressed with the displays, where i thought the Tricolori was especially improved since the last time i saw them
AirSpace - more than just hot air
Now I didn't think I would be saying this last week, but with hindsight, one of my highlights from the show must be the weather that weekend.................
It would have been a complete disaster if the airshow had been held this weekend.
For those that now the village of Fairford well, have a look at photos 3 & 4
Our sympathies go to anyone affected
Here's RAF Fairford itself from this weekend past.
Article courtesy of Stars & Stripes:- http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=47610
Sympathies to everyone in all areas that are affected.