RIAT: Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford

Preview of RIAT 2017: the RAF Fairford airshow. RAF Fairford as an airshow venue

  • 2017 RIAT preview
  • 2016 RIAT summary
  • Maps
  • Getting there
  • Staying
  • Weather

RIAT RAF Fairford 2017: Preview

14th - 16th July 2017

USAF Thunderbirds' only 2017 UK display will be at RIAT

Reputed to be the biggest military airshow in the world, RIAT features modern military and classic aircraft, static and flying, from many continents.

The 2017 Air Tattoo will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the US Air Force and partnerships between the many players in the defence and aviation communities.

As part of the airshow's tribute to mark the US Air Force's 70th anniversary, the six F-16 Fighting Falcons of the USAF Thunderbirds will make a rare trip across the Atlantic to display at RIAT - their only UK appearance in 2017 and their first at RIAT since 2007. As part of the same theme, Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor has also been confirmed. The Raptor entered service with the USAF in December 2005 but did not perform its first UK flying demo until 2010.

Air Tattoo Chief Executive Andy Armstrong said:

"Very few aircraft can match the cutting edge capabilities demonstrated by the F-22 so we're really pleased to be able to welcome it back this year. We were the first airshow in the UK to showcase the Raptor and were lucky enough to secure it again in 2016. Its display at both airshows proved hugely popular and I'm confident its display will surpass expectations yet again. "Without the support of the US Air Force, the Air Tattoo would not be the huge success it is and one way we can demonstrate our gratitude is to stage a fitting salute to mark the air arm's significant anniversary."

Other national teams at RIAT will be the Red Arrows and the Patrouille Suisse, the aerobatic team of the Swiss Air Force, with their six F-5E Tiger IIs.

Airshows at RAF Fairford

RAF Fairford was built in 1944, towards the end of the second world war, mainly to provide an airfield for British and American troop carriers and gliders for the D-day landings. After the war it was one of four airfields chosen as a base for the USAF Strategic Air Command and in the 'cold war' era served as a USAF strategic bomber base.

The airfield played a role in several foreign military interventions, such as Libya in 1986, the Gulf war in 1991 and the Iraq war in 2003, but by 2010 all military personnel had been withdrawn. It nevertheless retains its status as a designated standby airfield, capable of reactivation within 48 hours.

Fairford's runway is over 3,000M long and has an unrestricted load capacity, so it can take any kind of aircraft. It served for eight years as a test centre for the Concorde and was also the only UK abort landing site for the American space shuttle.

Other flying and static displays

RIAT invariably features displays that will not be seen anywhere else in the UK, generally including many prestige solo and formation displays by air forces from Europe, Scandinavia and the Middle-East. In 2015 RIAT had 247 aircraft from 19 different nations. In 2016 there were over 230 aircraft, from 24 countries. In 2016 the Croatian air force made its debut: the 56th nation to participate since the Air Tattoo was first held in 1971, cementing the reputation of RIAT airshow as truly international.

As well as flying displays there are more static displays than anywhere else. The 2003 RIAT was recognised by the Guinness Book of World records as the largest military air show ever, when 535 aircraft attended.

The full list of nations invited to participate will be published and a link to it is here.

Aircraft due to fly
(Tap / hover over icon for more detail)
USAF Thunderbirds
Patrouille Suisse
Red Arrows
BBMF Lancaster
BBMF Spitfire
F-22 Raptor (USAF)
F-16 Soloturk (TBC*)
EF/A-18 Hornet (C-15) Spanish Air Force (TBC*)
Gazelle Squadron. Four flying (TBC*)
*These displays have been announced by the operator but not confirmed by the show.
The show's own list is here
More aircraft due to fly will be listed here as announced. Several national aerobatic teams can reasonably be anticipated
Static aircraft due to be on display
Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patroller (German Navy)
Airbus EC-135 P2+ training helicopter (German Navy)
Westland Sea Lynx utility helicopter (German Navy)
All appearances are subject to availability and to technical, weather and other constraints

The Tattoo runs for a three-day weekend. On Friday only there is also access to the 'pit area' before and after the displays where visitors can see crews, engineers and aircraft involved in the flying.

The annual Royal International Air Tattoo is also a great family day out with plenty going on for everyone.

Grandstand improvements but no Pitzone

Following complaints about the changed Viewing Village and Friends grandstands in 2016, the 2017 contract has been awarded to the supplier of the more spacious and practical 2015 grandstands. The popular Pitzone has been removed for 2017.


Tickets are available now but sell quickly and usually sell out some time before the event. There are also multi-day tickets and a variety of enhancements, again subject to availability. FRIAT and MACH1 sold out before the end of January. Under 16s attend free when accompanied by a ticket-holding adult. Parking is free and there is a special area for people with disabilities. You can buy 'Park and View' tickets to see arrivals and departures before and after show dates. There is more detail in the right margin on this page and the full range of tickets is on the RIAT ticket page.

Unmissable RIAT


The F-35 made its international show debut at RIAT 2016

The 2016 Air Tattoo took a look into the future under the main theme "The Next Generation: Inspiring Innovation". Like the show at RAF Cosford, there was a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) related initiatives, with participation from organisations involved in STEM as well as in air arms, aircraft operators, aerospace and technology companies. Another theme shared with the airshow at RAF Cosford was the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Air Cadet Organisation.

The full list of nations invited to participate was published very early in the 2016 season. RIAT was originally the only UK show to get the USAF F-22 Raptor until it became a very late addition to the Flying Legends airshow at Duxford. The F-22, which entered service in 2005, was last at RIAT in 2010. This year it was flown by Maj Daniel 'FFits' Dickinson of the F-22 Demo Team.

Aircraft booked to fly in 2016

Tap / hover over icon for more detail

Airbus A400M (Airbus Defence & Space) (8th, 9th & 10th)
  AgustaWestland HH-101A Caesar (Italian Air Force) CANCELLED
Apache: (AAC Attack Helicopter Display Team) (not confirmed by RIAT)
Apache Demo Team (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
BAC Strikemaster Mk82A (NWMAS - Mark Petrie) (8th only)
BBMF Spitfire, Hurricane (8th, 9th & 10th)
Bell-Boeing CV-22B Osprey (USAF SOS) (8th, 9th, 10th)
Black Cats (Wildcat HMA.2 x2) (RN) (8th, 9th & 10th)
Bölkow Bo105P (German Army Aviation)
RAF Chinook
Dassault Rafale C (French Air Force)
Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 (RAF) (8th, 9th & 10th)
Eurofighter Typhoon F-2000 (Italian Air Force)
Eurofighter Typhoon (BAe Systems) (8th, 9th & 10th)
Eurofighter Typhoon F-2000 (Spanish Air Force) (9th & 10th)
Extra 330SC (Breitling SA) (9th & 10th)
F-16C Soloturk (Turkish Air Force)
F-16, Zeus Demo Team (Hellenic Air Force)
F-16 F-16A MLU (Belgian Air Component)
F-16C 'Tiger' (Polish Air Force)
F/A-18 Super Hornet (US Navy) (9th & 10th)
F-22A Raptor (USAF)
F-35A (x2): Lockheed Martin F-35A (x2) (USAF)
F-35B (x2): Lockheed Martin F-35B (x2) (US Marine Corps)
F-35: Lockheed Martin F-35 (UK) (not yet confirmed by RIAT)
Frecce Tricolori (AT-339A x10) (Italian Air Force)
Hercules: Lockheed Martin KC-130J Hercules refueller (US Marines)
  King Air Display Team (RAF) CANCELLED
MiG-29A (Polish Air Force)
  MiG-29AS (Slovakian Air Force) CANCELLED
Orlik Team: PZL-130TC-2 Orlik x 8
P-51D Mustang (Heritage Flight) (8th, 9th & 10th)
Patrouille Swiss (F-5E Tiger II x6) (Swiss Air Force)
Ramex Delta Team (AMD Mirage 2000N) (French Air Force)
Red Arrows (Hawk T1 x9) (RAF) (8th, 9th & 10th)
Royal Jordanian Falcons (Extra 300L x4)
Saab JAS 39C Gripen (Swedish Air Force Historic Flight)
Wings of Storm (6 Pilatus PC-9M) (Croatian Air Force)
Wingwalkers (9th & 10th) (3 flying. 4th static)
Static aircraft due to be on display
AgustaWestland AH-64D Apache (US Army)
Airbus A310 MRTT (German Air Force) CANCELLED
Airbus A330 Voyager tanker (RAF)
Airbus A400M (German Air Force)
Airbus (Eurocopter) EC-135P2 helicopter (German Navy)
Airbus KC-30A Tanker (Royal Australian Air Force)
Airbus Squirrel helicopter (RAF)
Antonov AN-26 (Hungarian Air Force) CANCELLED
Antonov AN-28B1R / M28 Bryza (Polish Navy)
Apache (Army Air Corps)
Avro Anson C.19 (BAE Systems)
Beech 18S (Carlo Ferrari)
Beechcraft King Air Avenger T1 (750 Naval Air Squadron)
Beechcraft King Air 350 SM (Textron Aviation)
Beechcraft AT-6B (Textron Aviation)
Bell-Boeing CV-22B Osprey
Blackburn B-2 (BAE Systems)
Boeing 757-22QC (Royal New Zealand Air Force)
Boeing Stearman (Breitling Wingwalkers) (1 static, 3 flying)
Bolkow Bo105P (German Army Aviation)
Bristol Scout (David Bremner)
Britten-Norman Islander
Britten-Norman Defender
Cessna 208 Grand Caravan (Textron Aviation)
Chinook CH-47 (RNAF)
C-130H Hercules (RNAF) CANCELLED
C-130J Hercules (RAF)
C-130H Hercules (Royal Jordanian Air Force)
C-130H Hercules (Belgian Air Component)
C-130E Hercules (Pakistan Air Force)
C-27J Spartan (Lithuanian Air Force)
C-295M (Royal Air Force of Oman)
CN235-100 Maritime Patrol (Irish Air Corps)
CP-140 Aurora (Royal Canadian Air Force)
Cessna 172N (Professional Flight Training)
De Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk x8 (civilian)
De Havilland DH-60 Cirrus Moth (BAE Systems)
Dornier Do228 (German Navy)
Dornier Do228 (R Netherlands Coastguard)
Dassault Falcon DA20 ECM (Royal Norwegian Air Force)
Eurofighter Typhoon EF2000/T x3 (German Air Force)
Eurofighter Typhoon F2000 (Italian Air Force)
Eurofighter Typhoon EF2000 (Spanish Air Force)
Evektor-Aerotechnik C-42B Ikarus (microlight)(RAF Halton Flying Club)
Evektor-Aerotechnik EV97 Eurostar (RAF Halton Flying Club)
F-4E Phantom (x2) (Hellenic Air Force)
F-15C Eagle (US Air Forces Europe)
F-15E Eagle (US Air Forces Europe)
F-16AM (Belgian Air Force)
Falcon DA20 ECM (Royal Norwegian Air Force)
Grob Tutor (RAF)
Gulfstream G550 (Civilian VIP Transport)
Hawk T.1 (736 Naval Air Squadron)
Hawk T.1 (RAF)
Hawk T.2 (RAF)
Hawker Hunter F.58A (Hawker Hunter Aviation)
Hawker Sea Hurricane 1B (Shuttleworth Collection)
Jet Provost T5 XW324 (Jeff Bell / Jet Aerobatics)
KC -135R (US Air Force Special Operations)
KC-767J Tanker (Japan Air Self Defence Force)
Lockheed P-3C Orion (German Navy)
MiG-29AS (Slovakian Air Force) CANCELLED
MiG-29AS/UBS (Slovakian Air Force) CANCELLED
Mil Mi-171 (Croatian Air Force)
North American OV-10B Bronco (Tony de Bruyn / Eureka Aviation)
P-8 Poseidon (US Navy)
Piper L-21B Super Cub (Belgian Air Component) CANCELLED
Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen (Hungarian Air Force) CANCELLED
Saab JAS-39D Gripen (Swedish Air Force)
Scottish Aviation Bulldog T.1 (High G Ltd)
Shorts SC-7 Skyvan (Tony de Bruyn / Eureka Aviation)
Socata TB20 Trinidad (Bruno Stocker)
Supermarine Spitfire TR.9 (Boultbee Academy)
Textron AirLand Scorpion (Textron Aviation)
Tornado PA200 IDS/ECR x2 (German Air Force)
Tornado GR.4 x2 (RAF)
Transall C-160D (German Air Force)
Typhoon FGR.4 x2(RAF)
Vintage gliders (see text)
All appearances are subject to availability and to technical, weather and other constraints

As well as the Raptor, five F-35s from the USAF and US Marine Corps were at the show, one of only two airshows to get the F-35 in 2016, the other being the Farnborough International Airshow. Two USMC F-35Bs and one RAF F-35B were in the main F-35 flying display. The USAF also featured a Heritage Flight formation flypast comprising F-35A, F-22 and Mustang 'Miss Helen'. There was also a F-35 Lightning II on static in the southside operational area at some times over the three-day weekend.

The US Marine Corps added a great spectacle to the international début of the F-35B by demonstrating the new fighter's ability to refuel in mid-air. The Marines flew one of their KC-130J Hercules tankers in close formation with the F-35 to perform an air-to-air refuelling simulation during the F-35B's display.

The United States enhanced that already significant presence at this year's Air Tattoo by reprising the Bell-Boeing CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor provided by the 352nd Special Operations Wing based at RAF Mildenhall, following its flying debut in last year's show. The aircraft has the unique capability of being able to take-off vertically like a helicopter but fly at forward speeds associated with fixed-wing aircraft. One of the Ospreys was also in the static display, allowing visitors to get up close to these impressive aircraft.

The Swedish Air Force provided a Saab JAS 39C Gripen to the flying display and a 39D Gripen to the static park although the Hungarian Gripen, once scheduled, was cancelled. The Hellenic Air Force F-16C 'Zeus' demo team was another of the flying displays. Stars of the show, especially flying in and out either side of show days, were the Hellenic Air Force's pair of jets from the 1960s, McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantoms, which spent show days in the static display. This was Greece's biggest contingent of aircraft since 1998.

This was the only UK airshow where the Swiss Air Force Patrouille Suisse flew.

The RAF contingent included the Red Arrows, the Chinook and the Eurofighter Typhoon, all of which flew on all three days. The RAF static display had some trainers: a Squirrel helicopter and Hawks T1 and T2; front-line aircraft: two Tornado GR.4 ground attack aircraft, two Typhoon FGR.4 multirole fighter/bomber and the C-130J Hercules C.5 and a Voyager tanker. The RAF's newest type, the A400M Atlas, featured in the RAF Village and helped to showcase the modern Royal Air Force to the public. The Royal Navy was represented by the Black Cats helicopter display team.

The Dutch sent a large contingent of aircraft to the static display. A Royal Netherlands Air Force Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter and C-130 Hercules airlifter were joined by a Dornier 228 twin-turboprop patrol aircraft, which is flown in the colours of the Netherlands Coast Guard by air force and navy pilots. The distinctive three-engined KDC-10 transport/tanker jet had also been scheduled for the static line-up but has been withdrawn.

The French Air Force contributed two of the most spectacular fast jet displays in Europe, the solo Dassault Rafale C multi-role fighter and Ramex Delta team, comprising two Dassault Mirage 2000N strike aircraft. Seen for the first time in Britain at RIAT 2015, Ramex Delta presented a dynamic role demonstration of the delta-winged Mirage, consisting of various tactical manoeuvres representative of those used in combat.

The Dassault Rafale swing-role combat jet has been at the Tattoo several times. The display aircraft was a single-seat Rafale C stationed at Base Aérienne 113 Saint-Dizier. At the controls for the first time this year was a new display pilot, Capitaine 'Marty' Martinez.

The Italian Air Force provided the highlight for many in the close formations, solo exhibitions and smoke-flag streaming of the ten Aermacchi AT-339A (previously known as MB339 PAN) of the Frecce Tricolori. This is one of the last seasons for the AT-339A, which is due to be replaced as the Frecce's mount by the Aermacchi M-345 HET.

The Italian Air Force also introduced the AgustaWestland HH-101A Caesar helicopter for its UK debut. The 'Caesar' is essentially the Italian's Merlin and is versatile enough to be configured for a variety of roles including combat search & rescue, special forces, medical evacuation and slow-moving intercept. The Italian's flying line-up was completed with a Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon and a second was amongst the statics. The Spanish Air Force also sent a Typhoon for the static and flying displays.

Croatia was the 56th nation to display at RIAT when their Krila Oluje aerobatic team made its UK debut. The Krila Oluje (meaning 'Wings of Storm, celebrating a major Croatian military operation named 'Oluje', during the country's war of independence from the former Yugoslavia) fly six PC-9M in dynamic close-formation, opposition and solo elements. The team's support aircraft, a Mil Mi-171 transport helicopter, was on static display.

The Air Force from another east european country, Poland, was also represented in flying displays, displaying the MiG-29A and joining the Polish F-16C Tiger Demo Team and Team Orlik. The Slovakian Air Force was also to display a MiG-29AS, joined in the static park by a MiG-29AS/UBS and with a Slovakian Let L410 transporter in support, but their involvement in RIAT was cancelled.

The Belgian Air Component's long-time demonstration pilot Cdt Tom 'Gizmo' De Moortel displayed the extremely popular F-16 at the weekend. Belgium's fleet of 54 F-16s has benefited from 'Mid Life Upgrades', nevertheless their agility and popularity belie their 40 year pedigree. The extravagant 'Blizzard' paint scheme adds to its popularity, as witnessed by several trophy wins at previous Air Tattoos.

Belgium also sent a C-130H Hercules transport for the static display joined, for the first time at RIAT, by a veteran Piper L-21B Super Cub used as a glider tug to support the country's Air Cadets.

As part of official celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the Air Training Corps, the Royal International Air Tattoo 2016 featured a static display of vintage gliders used by the Air Cadet Organisation over the years. The oldest of them on show were the Slingsby Kirby Cadet, Slingsby Grasshopper and Slingsby Sedbergh, all employed by the ATC during the early post-war years. A later example is the Slingsby Venture, the first powered glider to be employed by the Air Cadets and current equipment was represented by examples of the Grob Viking glider and Grob Vigilant motorglider.

Flying on Friday

RAF Typhoon
Red Arrows
Red Arrows, F-35 and 2 x Typhoon Flypast
USAF F-35A, F-22 and Mustang Heritage Flight Flypast
Belgian F-16
Airbus Defence and Space A400M
BAE Systems Typhoon BBMF Spitfire and Hurricane
Dutch Apache
Turkish F-16
Royal Navy Black Cats
Strikemaster *
Hercules and F-35B Refuelling Demonstration *
*These two displays are on Friday only

Location of RIAT

Local area

Getting to RIAT

By car

From north-east of Fairford, use the M40 leaving at junction 8 onto the A40 west. From the south and south-east use the M4 leaving at junction 15 onto the A419 north. From the west, use the M4 leaving at junction 17 onto the A429 north. From mid and north Wales and the north west, use the M5 and leave at junction 11a onto the A417 south. The post code for sat nav is GL7 4EG but in all cases ignore the sat nav and follow local signposting as soon as it becomes available. Parking is free. The promoter's own advice on getting to the airfield on show day is here.

By coach

National Express have coach services to Cirencester (about 4 miles away) and to Cricklade (about 5 miles away), but it is better to go to Swindon because there is a shuttle from Swindon station to the show. Journey times from London are all just over 2 hours. You can book seats online. Click the National Express name to go to their web site.

By Train

The best rail station to use is Swindon, because there are (chargeable) shuttle buses between Swindon station and the show. Swindon is well served with rail services from London, Oxford, Wales and the west.

Click here to create a pocket timetable for your journey between any stations on the National Rail network.

The variety of rail tickets and fares can be very confusing. Trainline and Raileasy web sites list all ticket and fare options for the time and day of travel you choose, but they both levy an admin fee. Click either of the blue ticket agency names to go to their web site.

Travel Advice

Road traffic updates
Highways Agency

National Express

Incidents and enquiries
National Railway Map
DIY pocket timetable

Journey planning by public transport

Route planners (Road)
Bing (Microsoft)

Find accommodation near RAF Fairford

It is best to book as far as possible in advance. This is not only because nearby hotels and guest houses tend get booked up well before the date of an airshow but also because prices can be better when you book early online.

There are plenty of booking agencies. We find that many of the well known ones are better at finding hotels from international or larger UK chains and may suggest hotels in main towns or cities quite a distance from the show site.

If you need plenty of options, we find that, between them, LateRooms and Expedia list a good selection of smaller, as well as bigger, hotels and will find accommodation in villages and small towns as well as the main centres. Expedia also give, and take, Nectar points.

Click either blue agency name for a list of hotels and guest houses near the show. The venue is already built into both links, so when the list comes up you just have to enter your dates.

Trivago will list competitive prices for a range of hotels, but they might not necessarily find them all, because some chains do not subscribe to their service. You may also get a better rate if you book direct with an hotel, especially if you are a member of a loyalty or rewards scheme.

The International Hotels Group have a Holiday Inn and two Holiday Inn Express hotels in Swindon, about 15 miles away and Premier Inn also have three hotels in or around Swindon.

Weather for Fairford

Other Forecasts

UK Met Office

A full 7 day RAF Fairford weather forecast from the UK Met Office


A five day forecast for RAF Fairford from the BBC



2017 Show

14th-16th July 2017

Airshow links

Show's web site


No tickets on the gate.
Advance purchase only
Super Earlybird ended 31st Jan.
Earlybird adult (until 2nd May):
Fri £34, Sat or Sun £47
Standard adult (from 3rd May)
Fri £39, Sat or Sun £55.

There are further discounts for multi-day tickets. Upgrades are also available but the following have sold out:

MACH 1, 2 and 3 all days
Accessibility enclosure on Saturday.

Details on RIAT ticket page

Park & View adult Weds & Thurs £15, Mon £20
Accompanied under 16s free all days but advance (free) ticket required.


Car parks from 06.00 all days
Friday gates 07.30 - 18.30. Flying 11.00 - 15.00
Sat & Sun gates 07.30 - 19.30. Flying 10.00 - 17.30

Park & View:
Wed & Thurs 07.30 - 19.30pm
Mon 07.30 - 16.30


Sat Nav: GL7 4EG then follow signs.
For links to travel and route planning web sites, click the 'Getting there' tab