PICTURES: RIAT raises the game with high-quality displays

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Regular visitors to Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) know to be prepared for adverse weather, and this year's event brought the familiar mix of torrential rain, heavy showers and drizzle, along with the occasional dry and even bright spell.

Staged annually at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire and run back-to-back with Farnborough on 7-8 July this year, RIAT has established itself as the premiere international gathering for air forces from around the globe.

 

BillyPix

South Korea's Black Eagles put on an impressive display with their T-50 trainers

A Royal Air Force-led initiative to host an air chiefs' conference immediately before RIAT attracted the top officials from 49 services as well as debut aircraft contributions from Colombia, Japan and South Korea. These nations respectively brought: a spectacularly-liveried Lockheed Martin C-130H transport and Lancair Synergy trainer; a Boeing KC-767 tanker; and eight Korea Aerospace Industries T-50s flown by the Black Eagles aerobatic display team.

 

RIAT

Other highlights included the first visit by a US air force Northrop Grumman B-2 stealth bomber since 1999 (above), a rain-sodden renaming ceremony (above) of the A400M as the "Atlas" and a welcome return of the Avro Vulcan XH558 to the air show circuit. The latter wowed the crowds on Saturday after the swift replacement of both her port Rolls-Royce Olympus engines by The Vulcan to the Sky Trust's tireless engineers. This followed a 28 May mishap caused by the failure to remove silica gel desiccant bags prior to start-up, which destroyed two engines.

 

Craig Hoyle/Flightglobal

The A400M was renamed the Atlas

A Saturday flypast involving five types from the RAF's current air transport and tanker fleets also brought the only opportunity to see the Atlas participate in an air display this summer, and marked a RIAT farewell to the Vickers VC10. First flown 50 years ago, the type is due to leave operational use next March.

While the bad weather prevented several planned displays from being performed, the attractions on show and high-level military attendance again underlined RIAT's international standing. Hopefully 2013 will bring the fine weather it deserves.