My earliest memory of an Air Tattoo is at Greenham Common. I can remember the terrible traffic queues on the way in, I still recognise the trees going into Newbury from the north. Once in the early shows were much smaller than we know now, but the quality was good. Stars in 1974 looking back,were the USAF Constellation, DC6 and KC97.
Equally memorable were the queues to get out at the end, they seemed to send everyone out through one gate at each end, with no traffic control to help. Makes you appreciate the traffic system today-generally it works so much better.
Some personal thoughts that RIAT is more than just about 'planes.
RIAT has become far more than just a gathering of military hardware for us all to gaze at. For me, and I know many others, RIAT is about renewing friendships and has a social value.
This year, like previous years, I headed to the Fairford venue for the arrival days. In many ways this offers great value for money, as, weather permitting, you are guaranteed a constant procession of attending aircraft. It almost prompts someone to shout 'Pull', as they land past the viewing enclosure, in anticipation of the next. Initially your aircraft recognition skills are tested and then your nerve, should I be the first one to announce what you think it is......... what if I am wrong, the friends around you will have a laugh, but all the others will formulate their own impression. But what if I'm right, what cudos........
Anyway, I digress. Years ago, as a youngster with my parents and older bruver, we would tour the airshow circuit in our caravan and inevitably meet up with like minded campers at weekends. Circumstances change and people loose touch, but this year, I found myself standing next to a man, a caravaner, who we first met before the Greenham Common show in 1979, but we had not met up for over 20 years. It was an absolute delight to re-make his acquantance and I know the feelings were mutual. Get a life, I hear you say, but many a true lasting friendship is based around our common interest, aviation. Initially, a raport develops, stories told and shared, mutual friends discovered through conversation. I know this is not a unique thing to aviation, it must happen amongst other enthusiast fraternities. In a similar fashion, friends met under similar circumstances, from home and abroad, have even joined us on foreign trips, airfield, to airfield, to museum and to airfield, amongst the usual touristy things.
Many will agree, that as much enjoyment can be got from a quiet sit down and a chat, against the fence, waiting for the next aircraft to appear as from sharing the thrill of a loud, thunderous airshow. In many ways I enjoy the former, as, as a seasoned enthusiast, so much has been seen before, but these friends from many a far flung field are not and time with them is always a joy.
Is there anybody out there?