In 2014 4Aviation travelled to the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford for the sixth year in a row. Besides the traditional 1-day trip (Saturday) and 2-day trip (Sunday and Monday) there was an option this year to combine the show at Fairford with a visit to the Flying Legends air show at Duxford. The announcement of the first visit to Europe of three F-35s resulted in a lot of interest for the trips.
As such, on Friday evening 11 July 2014 three buses visited several pick-up locations in the Netherlands and Belgium on their way to Calais to make the crossing to Dover from there. The almost 150 participants of this 1-day trip (visiting the show on 12 July) have enjoyed beautiful weather on the Saturday. The return journey was a advertised and all participants were dropped off at the preferred locations by Sunday morning.
The double-decker bus that visited on Sunday (show) as well as Monday (departures) started its journey towards Fairford on Saturday afternoon. The journey went as planned and the coach was the first one to arrive at the designated parking lot. Not long after that the double-decker bus with participants that visited the Flying Legends air show at Duxford on Saturday arrived as well. This group would be heading for the Netherlands again at 1900 hours that same evening. At the same moment the Sunday/Monday group headed for a hotel in Swindon to spend the night.
This last group was back near RAF Fairford again early on Monday (14 July) to gain access to the Park & View are during the departures on this day. A small part of the group opted for take-off shots, while the remainder found a spot at P&V West to capture almost all aircraft on the runway that were departing during the day. A 4 o’clock in the afternoon it was all over and the bus started its journey back to the Netherlands. On Tuesday morning 15 July the final passengers off the Fairford weekend were dropped off again.
Unfortunately the highlight of the show was also the most remarkable absent one; a general grounding of the aircraft type prevented the F-35 from coming. Although the number of aircraft appears to be going down year after year RIAT stays to be an awesome event. For this year for instance they were able to attract two Hellenic Air Force A-7s and was the display of the Polish Fitter duo added to the display. Almost without extra attention there was a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force KC-767 in the static display. Despite that there were no RAF or USAF C-130s still a group of six Hercules’ was present (Algeria, Belgium, Jordan, Netherlands, Norway and Oman). Two more visiting Italian C-130s were added to this on Monday. The Italians were present in large number in the air show. The 40 years of F-16 and 40 years Hawk themes unfortunately were hardly visible. Biggest underachiever must have been the Royal Air Force itself. Many aircraft types we missing in the static display and the general ´presence´ was limited to say the least.
Hoping and expecting that both RAF and USAF will be represented in full glory again next year we will add the trip to our calendar for 2015 again for sure. RIAT still is and will be one of the larger and better military air shows in the world.