Royal International Air TattooPhotographers: Frank Grealish
/ Sonya Cooley
17th - 19th July 2009Location:
RAF Fairford (FFD / EGVA), UK - England
After the Royal International Air Tattoo 2008 was cancelled due to the weather (the first cancellation in the shows 38 year history) the organisers were hoping for better luck in 2009. IrishAirPics paid its now annual visit to the worlds largest military air show.
To ensure that RIAT 2009 went ahead despite what Mother Nature could throw at it the organisers spent £200,000 improving the base infrastructure, this included providing on base parking using the concrete aprons.
The weather tried its best to interrupt proceedings, Friday the arrivals & practise day was wet and overcast, Saturday was mostly dry with the sun shining through at times while Sunday was a mixture of torrential rain showers and blue skies. As luck would have it on the Sunday it was raining for most of the fast jet displays.
Saturday was a sell out with 160,000 people attending, aircraft participation consisted of 269 aircraft from 33 air arms (22 countries). Algeria was a first time participant at RIAT, making it the 51st country to attend.
The show piece of the flying display was the Fly Navy 100 flypast, other flying highlights were the Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 and of course the Vulcan.
The flying display also had a lot of fast jets although there was some duplication of aircraft, the F/A-18 Hornet was displayed by Switzerland, Spain & Finland while the SAAB JAS-39 Gripen was displayed by Sweden & Hungary with the latters aircraft even doing a dump and burn.
The Dutch F-16 added a splash of colour to otherwise (at times) grey skies while the French Rafale made its first appearance at RIAT as the Mirage 2000 replacement on the display circuit. Last but not least was the RAF Typhoon display, the bright orange afterburners of this fast jet making it stand out against the grey clouds.
RIAT is a show that is generally not to be missed although if you are into rare aircraft & operators arrivals and departures days could be the day for you, especially if you want to see the rarer aircraft in the air. I for one was happy to see the pair of French Air Force Mirage F1s land and taxi past on the Friday, especially in light of my two (failed) attempts to catch these increasingly rare birds flying.