The World’s largest military Airshow
Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) – The World’s largest military airshow is back after the Covid19, nearly 200,000 spectators and guests were able to witness an intense long weekend of aviation.
It was a long wait, the sun smiled the return to the tarmac of RAF Fairford of the “World’s largest military airshow”: the Royal international Air Tatto 2022 – RIAT .
The weekend between 15th and 17th July on British soil we were finally able to review the performances of the best of world military aviation, from the arrivals of Wednesday 13th July to the departures of Monday 18th July the Royal international Air Tattoo show was exciting as always.
Like a triumphal march, between Friday and Sunday the air shows and the events on the ground dragged the nearly 200,000 fans who flocked to relive the sensations that only RIAT can give, sensations abandoned due to the Covid19 epidemic in previous years.
Both in the air and on the ground 266 aircraft, 38 teams from 34 different countries and 1,500 crew members from across the globe in a celebration of aviation, science, and engineering, spectators could admire some rare aircraft and see perform, above their heads, some of the best displays and acrobatic teams in the world.
Training the Next Generation
Under the theme “Training the Next Generation”, the 75th anniversary of the United States Air Force and with a specific focus on sustainability, Royal International Air Tattoo presented guests, high technology and the future of civil and military engineering available to all of us.
With the normal presence of military pilots with their crews and technicians, even some astronauts and other famous guests involved in the aviation, among the stands made available by the numerous partners and the organization, the spectators had an excellent chance to interact with them in the world’s largest annual military airshow.
U.S. Air Force 75th Anniversary
The USAF to celebrate its 75th anniversary has exhibited an interesting static display with some of its best aircraft: Bell Boeing CV-22B Osprey, Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker, Boeing KC-46A Pegasus, Lockheed Martin F-16CM Fighting Falcon, Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II along with a McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle in 75th Anniversary Livery and the Lockheed Martin MC-130J Commando II.
At their side the historians: Canadair CL-13B Saber, North American P-47D Thunderbolt, 2 splendid North American P-51D Mustangs, the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVIE RW832 “The American Spitfire” (Around 600 Spitfires in different version served in the U.S. Army Air Force and Navy), Cessna O-1 Bird Dog and Cessna O-2 Skymaster, and the splendid presence of the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress “Sally B”, the only airworthy B-17 in Europe.
Rarity of exception for this year at Royal International Air Tattoo, by the USAF for its 75 years, the Boeing E-4B “Doomsday Plane” one of just four E-4B aircraft operated by Global Strike Command, and the Lockheed U-2S ” Dragon Lady ”a single engine ultra-high altitude reconnaissance aircraft introduced in 1957 and still operative. Alongside these aircraft we have also seen equipment and means of support for carrying out operations.
A long list of some of its iconic aircraft from its first half century of life, the USAF had to cancel the presence of two of its B52s due to some technical problems with the aircraft.
As previously mentioned, exceptional guests couldn’t be missing to accompany this splendid airshow, for example Major Timothy Nigel “Tim” Peake, European Space Agency astronaut and a former International Space Station (ISS) crew member, Col. Charles Moss Duke Jr. former USAF fighter pilot, Test Pilot and lunar module pilot on Apollo 16 the tenth and youngest person to walk on the Moon, il Flt Lt. Joanna Mary “Jo” Salter, former RAF Pilot and UK’s first female fast jet pilot and Ambassador of the RAF Charitable Trust.
But 2022 is not only the year of the return of the RIAT, it is also the year of the return to the screens of one of the most iconic movie in the world: Top Gun. With the sequel “Top Gun: Maverick” we were able to relive the sensations, the need for speed, given by the historic movie and consequently at RIAT, among the world Top Guns the presence of an exceptional pilot could not be missing: Captain Pete “Maverick “Mitchell, USNAVY pilot.
Pete Mitchell, aka Tom Cruise was the jealously hidden surprise of the RIAT organizers, the famous American actor and pilot (licensed in 1994), personally owns some aircraft, including a WWII P-51 Mustang, entertained with pilots, RIAT staff and the public at the event stands.
Paul Atherton, Chief Executive of the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises, said: “Tom’s visit is something we’ve been trying really hard to keep under wraps but keeping secrets like that is hard when they’re so exciting.”
Jo Salter said: “I had the amazing opportunity to host Tom Cruise on Saturday and saw first-hand his passion for aviation and inspiring the next generation.”
In addition to guests, the stands also offered participants the opportunity to meet air forces crews present, pilots and interact with everything made available to deepen the aeronautical and engineering experience that surrounds this special world.
Not only aeronautics, as also highlighted by the guests, but aerospace, engineering, technical and future of air forces and aviation, sustainability and technological development. For example, there are also electric propulsion aircraft such as the Pipistrel Velis Electro.
But the flight line that engaged spectators, crews and photographers was very dense and full of news and splendid aircraft prepared for the current season.
Over 30 world air forces exhibited and flew the best of aircraft that fly our skies, Europe’s best solo displays and aerobatic teams accompanied by one of the long-awaited returns to RIAT: the Korean Black Eagles.
The best European and world pilots performed in the English skies of Gloucestershire: the Belgian Dream Viper, the Swiss Hornet display, the ZEUS F16 from Greece, the Hungarian and Swedish Gripen Displays, the Italian Reparto Sperimentale Volo RSV with its assets, the French Mustang X-ray, the Spanish Hornet Display, the BAeHawk Mk.51 Finnish display, the USAF CV-22B Osprey and finally the RAF with its Chinook Display and Typhoon Display.
Alongside these assets we also admired many assets of the various European and world air forces in fantastic displays of the capabilities of their aircraft, such as the scramble simulation of the Austrian Air Forces with 2 Eurofighters that intercepted a C130, but also the various helicopters and training planes from German, Slovenian, Hungarian, Czech air forces with which we were able to attend exciting displays.
But we can’t fail to mention the acrobatic patrols present, as a tradition of the Royal International Air Tattoo the presence of Frecce Tricolori always very welcome to the public, the Swiss PC-7 Team, the historic RAFBBMF – RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the always welcome Royal Jordanian Falcon with their Extra EA330Cs, the Danish Baby Blue, the Irish Silver Swallows back at RIAT after an absence of 25 years and impossible not to mention the hosts RAF Red Arrows. But, as also mentioned above, this year the RIAT organization after 10 years of absence gave us the performances of the Korean Black Eagles with their KAI T-50 “Golden Eagle”, which garnered ovations and applause in all show days.
Between Friday and Sunday, for all three days for the opening of the exhibitions we also witnessed pleasant surprises: the Red Arrows flypast with the RAF Boeing Poseidon MRA1, 2 aircraft of the Blades team flying over together with the Boeing 727-200F of the Oil Spill Response, the overflight of the Airbus A330-743L BelugaXL, the flypast of the Red Arrows with the Airbus KC2 “Voyager” (A330-243MRTT) ZZ336 “Vespina” and finally Sunday with the beautiful passage of the Red Arrows together with the Blacks Eagles to crown a wonderful weekend.
To savor the sensations of these teams even more you can see many of their performances in our gallery following the article, where you can also find photos of the Hungarian Saab JAS39C Gripen display with its spectacular “Dump and Burn” (dumping fuel from the aircraft’s tanks and setting it on fire with the afterburner).
But not only in flight, the static display also exalted the numerous enthusiasts who flocked to Fairford, in addition to the aforementioned USAF vehicles, we also admired numerous aircraft arriving from every corner of the world, among these we mention some of the most indicative such as the Eurofighter of the Kuwaiti Air Force and the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules of the Kingdom of Bahrain, that became the 57th RIAT participant. Sweden sent three of its legendary SAABs: Lansen, Draken and Viggen, Japan Air Self Defense Force sent Kawasaki C-2, Brazilian Air Force Embraer KC-390 Millennium, the Antonov An-30 ‘Clank’ ( photo reconnaissance aircraft) of the Romanian Air Force, BAE Systems Hawk Mk.167 of the Qatar Emiri Air Force, Lockheed P-3C Orion German Navy, CASA C-295MPA Persuader of the Royal Air Force of Oman.
The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana) brought an AMX A-11B Ghibli with special tail colors and an Aermacchi T-339A also with special tail colors. Special guest was the Douglas A-4N Skyhawk of Top Aces (is a Canadian based defense contractor that offers contracted airborne training services to Canadian Armed Forces through the Contracted Airborne Training Services – CATS program).
In memory of…
Among the numerous planes on the airbase’s tarmac, we also found an empty space. A space dedicated to a hero pilot who left us this year for an absurd useless war. The RIAT organization dedicated a memory to Colonel Oleksandr “Gray Wolf” Oksanchenko, the Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flanker display pilot between 2013 and 2018 (retired 2018, but part of the team till 2019) who returned in action from retirement for helping his nation invaded by Russia was killed by a S-400 missile during the Battle of Kyiv. He was posthumously awarded with the “Order of Gold Star”.
Between memories and news, between exciting performances and numerous activities on the ground, we finally found the atmosphere that had been taken away from us by a pandemic that has hurt us so much in recent years.
See you next year!
A wonderful sun and a rather high temperature for the British canons welcomed spectators from all over the world, happy to be able to enjoy the special atmosphere that only the AirTattoo can give.
Even if these days we are led astray by an absurd war, which is taking away friends and loved ones from many of us and has also limited participation in the event, we have tried to live the normality we had until 2019, now the appointment is postponed to next year and Breitling, partner of the event, has already restarted the countdown for AirTattoo 2023, which will take place between 14th and 16th July 2023.
We have already put it on the calendar, we will absolutely not miss the next appointment hoping that current events improve and we can return to live a well-deserved peace.
From Royal International Air Tattoo – RAF Fairford: Daniele Maiolo.
Prize Winners – AirTattoo 2022
- The Republic of Korea AirForce “Black Eagles” won the prize for “Best Demonstration” and the FRIAT “Crow Flies” award.
- The “Steedman Display Award” for the best demonstration by a United Kingdom participant: Chinook Display Team.
- The trophy for the “Most Spectacular Colour Scheme“: Belgian Air Force F-16 Solo Display
- Concours d’Elegance award for “Best Participating Aircraft“: RJAF C-130
- Concours d’ Elegance award for “Best Static Aircraft“: Irish Air Corps Pilatus PC-12NG Spectre
- The “Best Flying Demonstration by an Overseas Participant“: Austrian Air Force QRA demo
- Sir Douglas Bader Trophy for the Best Solo Display: Aeronautica Militare Italiana Alenia C-27J Spartan