With 2012 restoring the faith in RIAT for many enthusiast and 2013’s lack of American participation being saved by a few star items and good weather, one can only wonder what 2014 will bring. Mark Kwiatkowski provides a preview from RAF Fairford.
Wet and overcast was the scene at RAF Fairford for the 2014 Royal International Air Tattoo media day, with just over a month to go to RIAT 2014 everyone was hoping that this wasn’t a sign of the weather for July.
With it being the 50th display season of the Red Arrows it was fitting that they should be center stage for the RIAT media day launch with the whole team in attendance along with their spare jets. To mark the 50th anniversary one of the original Reds pilots from the 1965 team, Henry Prince, was present. Henry was Red 7 in that first display season and he went on to fly as Red 6 in both 1966 and 1967. The Red Arrows are a massive crowd puller and have a long and close association with the Air Tattoo.
Perhaps the most unusual thing about the Air Tattoo this year is that the main event will be held over three days from the 11th – 13th July. The extra show day on Friday is being marketed as a ‘Red Arrows Pit Day’ by the team at Douglas Badger House and the aim of the day is to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force’s aerobatic display team. With tickets £10 cheaper than the Saturday and Sunday, priced at £29, the ‘Pit Day’ provides controlled access to the Red Arrows and other international display teams plus arrivals, display rehearsals and a flypast by the RAF team, all with limited access to the show ground. This extra day does however mean those who would usually attend the Park and View areas for arrivals will have to purchase an advanced ‘Pit Day’ ticket for entry.
It’s widely known that the bi-annual Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) can attract some great participation to the UK and with RIAT always being hosted the week prior to the trade show, it often usually brings the aircraft to the Air Tattoo. This year will certainly deliver with the European debut of the F-35B Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter). The aircraft, which has yet to leave the shores of the United States, will be piloted by Squadron Leader Hugh Nichols, an RAF instructor pilot currently based at Eglin AFB, FL.
Alongside the RAF F-35B will be two United States Marine Corp (USMC) F-35B aircraft. One aircraft will perform a separate demonstration to that of Sqn Ldr Nichols, the second aircraft is expected to be used as an air spare and not placed on static display, a shame that the public cannot get up close and personal with the next generation stealth fighter.
Its appearance at the Air Tattoo will be the latest in a long line of military aircraft to have made their UK debut at the event, such as the F-14 Tomcat in 1976, MiG-23 in 1991, Typhoon in 1995 and the V-22 Osprey in 2006.
Air Tattoo Chief Executive Designate Andy Armstrong said: “Not only will people witness aviation history being made at the Air Tattoo but they will see a breath-taking demonstration of future combat aviation. Those people who enjoyed seeing the legendary Harrier display its hovering capabilities in the past will relish seeing its state-of the-art successor”.
The hot topic in the past week has been RIAT’s announcement that XH558, the worlds only flying Vulcan, will not be making an appearance at the airshow this year. Although the aircraft was offered by The Vulcan Operating Company (TVOC), RIAT had filled their display programme for both Saturday and Sunday with overseas participation and regrettably could not fit the Vulcan display in. Although an option to display the Vulcan in the static park was provided by RIAT, this was later declined by TVOC.
Other key participants include the Greek LTV A-7 Corsair II from 336 Mira (Squadron), the Turkish Air Force F-16C Soloturk display, Swiss Air Force F/A-18 Hornet, Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16A display and the Italian Air Force which will be providing both Typhoon and Tornado flying displays.
As this report goes live there are to be two big announcements in the weekly Thursday update that RIAT provides about participants. One is the addition of another display team (which wasn’t elaborated on during the media day) and the other is the Polish Su-22 Fitter which was announced by Andy Armstrong to the FRIAT members who were in attendance.
For a full list of confirmed flying and static participants expected for the show, head over to the Royal International Air Tattoo confirmed aircraft page which can be found here.
All tickets must be purchased in advanced and prices and purchase information can be found here. Some of the enclosures have already sold out and this is testament to how popular the Air Tattoo is with enthusiasts and the general public alike.