RIAT: Royal International Air Tattoo

RIAT 2024

July 19 - 21

B52 at RIAT23

B52 at RIAT23

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

The Operational Theme in 2024 will be 'Pushing the Boundaries in Air and Space', marking 100 years of British military test flights and highlighting the important work of flight testing and evaluation in modern aviation. This theme will allow aircraft and organisations from around the world to demonstrate the latest technological developments.

Another major theme in 2024 will be the F-16 'Fighting Falcon', in this 50th year since the aircraft's first flight. Developed for the United States Air Force, the Lockheed Martin F-16 took its first flight in 1974, and has enjoyed global success over its 50 years, currently being operated by over 25 different nations. Visitors can expect to see F-16s, flying and static, from around the world.

The show will also celebrate the 75th anniversary of NATO, whose role throughout has been to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries. See the box for some top NATO facts (taken from a RIAT news release).

Another focus area will be celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force. In a special ground area, the show will host both modern RCAF assets and historic aircraft types formerly flown by the RCAF, alongside displays of Canadian culture. As part of this theme, the Canadian CF-18 Demo Team will perform in the flying display.

There is more detail on the themes for 2024 on our 'RIAT 2024 Themes' page.


The Friends of RIAT package gives access to a tiered grandstand in the centre of the flightline on all show days, departure day and Thursday's arrivals day, plus Park-and-View access on Wednesday, together with other perks such as luggage storage, marquee, catering, WiFi, private toilets and daily aircraft movements list.

There are four FRIAT packages at the 2024 Air Tattoo, ranging from £315 to £390. Children 5-18 will be half price (younger children not admitted). The packages are available now.

RAF at RIAT 2024

The Red Arrows will celebrate their 60th anniversary at RIAT and will be joined by other RAF aircraft. Click the heading for more details.

Nato Facts

Nato was formed on the 4th April 1949

The original 12 members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom and United States
The latest country to join is Finland (on the 4th April 2023)
The only military equipment that NATO owns is a fleet of AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control) surveillance aircraft and several Global Hawk drones
Aircraft Scheduled to fly Check the show's web site for the official list of confirmed display aircraft
Additions to the flying list will be here when announced
National Aerobatic Teams
Patrouille Suisse: 6 Northrop F-SE Tiger 11Patrouille Suisse (Northrop F-5E Tiger II x6) (Swiss Air Force) (Sat & Sun)
Midnight HawksMidnight Hawks: BA Hawk Mk.51 (x4) (Finnish Air Force) (Sat & Sun. Possibly Fri)
Red Arrows BAe Hawk T1 (x9)Red Arrows (all 3 days)
Royal Jordanian Falcons, Extra 330LX x 4Royal Jordanian Falcons (4 x Extra 330LX) (Sat & Sun. Possibly Fri)
Fighters / Attack
Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning IILockheed Martin F-35B (RAF, role demo) (Sat & Sun)
RAF TyphoonEurofighter Typhoon FGR4 (RAF) (Sat & Sun)
McDonnell Douglas CF-188A HornetMcDonnell Douglas CF-188A Hornet (Royal Canadian Air Force) (Sat & Sun. Possibly Fri)
F-16AM 'Fighting Falcon' Royal Danish Air ForceF-16AM Fighting Falcon (Royal Danish Air Force)
HarrierMcDonnell Douglas EAV-8B Harrier II (Spanish Navy) (Sat & Sun. Possibly Fri)
Saab JAS-39C Gripen Czech Air Force Saab JAS-39C Gripen (Czech Air Force) (Sat & Sun. Possibly Fri)
Saab JAS-39C Gripen, Swedish Air ForceJAS-39C 'Gripen' (Swedish Air Force) (Sat & Sun. Possibly Fri)
Saab JAS-39C Gripen, Hungarian Air ForceJAS-39C 'Gripen' (Hungarian Air Force) (Sat & Sun. Possibly Fri)
Italian TyphoonEurofighter EF2000 (German Air Force) (Sat & Sun. Possibly Fri)
F-16 SoloturkLockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon 'Soloturk Demo Team' (Turkish Air Force) (Sat & Sun. Possibly Fri)
BBMF LancasterBBMF Lancaster 'PA474 Leader' (all 3 days: with single Hurricane and Spitfire on Friday, a pair of each on Sat & Sun)
BBMF Spitfire MK356Supermarine Spitfire (unspecified) (BBMF)(1 Friday, pair Sat & Sun)
BBMF Hurricane PZ865Hawker Hurricane (BBMF) (1 Friday, pair Sat & Sun)
Airbus A400 AtlasAirbus A400M (German Air Force)
Pilatus PC-9MPilatus PC-9M ‘Swift’ (Slovenian Armed Forces) (Sat & Sun. Possibly Fri)
NH90, German Army AviationNH90 TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) (German Army Aviation)
Static Display
Aero Vodochody L-159 ALCA (Czech Air Force)
Aero Vodochody L-159E Honey Badger (Draken Europe)
Airbus A319 OH (German Air Force)
Airbus C295MW (Serbian Air Force and Air Defence)
Airbus CC-150T Polaris (Royal Canadian Air Force)
Airbus CC-295 Kingfisher (Royal Canadian Air Force)
Airbus Helicopters H125 (QinetiQ)
Airbus Helicopters Juno HT.1 (RAF)
Airbus Helicopters Jupiter HT.1 (RAF)
Agusta A109 (QinetiQ)
BAE Systems Hawk Mk.167 (Qatar Emiri Air Force)
BAE Systems Hawk T.2 (RAF)
Beechcraft King Air 350 (QinetiQ)
Beechcraft Texan T.1 (RAF)
Boeing C-17A Globemaster III (Qatar Emiri Air Force)
Boeing CC-177 Globemaster (Royal Canadian Air Force)
Boeing E-3A Sentry (NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force and special flypast on Friday
Bombardier CL-604 Challenger (Royal Danish Air Force)
Bréguet 1050 (Alizé Marine)
British Aerospace Avro RJ100 (QinetiQ)
British Aerospace BAE 146-300 (FAAM Airborne Laboratory)
Conair Turbo Firecat (Civilian)
Dassault Falcon 20 (Draken Europe)
Dassault Mirage 2000-5 (French Air and Space Force)
de Havilland Canada Chipmunk (Shuttleworth Collection)
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter (British Antarctic Survey)
de Havilland Vampire FB.52 (Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron)
Embraer Phenom T.1 (RAF)
Eurofighter Typhoon (Qatar Emiri Air Force)
General Dynamics F-16AM Fighting Falcon (Belgian Air Component)
General Dynamics F-16BM Fighting Falcon (Royal Danish Air Force)
General Dynamics F-16AM Fighting Falcon (Royal Jordanian Air Force)
General Dynamics F-16BM Fighting Falcon (Royal Jordanian Air Force)
General Dynamics F-16AM Fighting Falcon (x4) (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
Grob G120TP (QinetiQ)
Grob Prefect T.1 (RAF)
Grob Tutor T.1 (RAF)
Hawker Hunter F.58 (Hawker Hunter Aviation)
Leonardo AW139 (Bristow Helicopters)
Leonardo AW139 (QinetiQ)
Leonardo AW169 (Uni-Fly)
Leonardo AW189 (Bristow Helicopters - cancelled)
Leonardo C-27J Spartan (Slovak Air Force)
Leonardo C-27J Spartan (Slovenian Armed Forces)
Lockheed C-130H Hercules (Royal Jordanian Air Force)
Lockheed Martin CC-130J Hercules (Royal Canadian Air Force)
Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon (Hellenic Air Force)
Lockheed Martin F-16D Fighting Falcon (Hellenic Air Force)
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet (Finnish Air Force)
McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II (X2) (TurkishAir Force)
NH90 NFH (Qatar Emiri Air Force)
NH90 NFH (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
NH90 TTH (German Army Aviation)
Northrop SF-5M Freedom Fighter (x2) (Spanish Air Force)
Panavia Tornado ECR (German Air Force)
Panavia Tornado IDS (German Air Force)
Pilatus PC-9M (Slovenian Armed Forces)
Pilatus PC-21 (QinetiQ)
Saab 340B (Cranfield University)
Saab JAS-39D Gripen (Swedish Air Force)
Sikorsky CH-53G (German Air Force)
Sikorsky S-92A (Bristow Helicopters)
Slingsby T66 Nipper (Aerial Vocations Ltd)
Westland Gazelle HT2 (Gazelle Squadron)
More static aircraft will be listed when announced

Flying participation announcements started earlier than in previous years, with confirmation on 7th December 2023 that The Royal Canadian Air Force will be sending their McDonnell Douglas CF-188A Hornet to take part in the flying display, a display which has not been seen at RAF Fairford since 2018. This follows the RCAF announcement the previous day that their Hornet would be displaying at RIAT2024.

The Canadian’s involvement at RIAT has further significance as the Royal International Air Tattoo 2024, will be hosting a celebration for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Centennial in 2024.

Head of Air Operations for the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, Peter Reoch said:

“We are delighted to confirm our first participating aircraft for next year’s Royal International Air Tattoo, especially with the Canadian Hornet being a rare sight in British skies.
“In addition to flying display, we are expecting a large Canadian presence in the static display at RAF Fairford in July as we mark their centenary, and we are looking forward to sharing more information in the coming months once additional aircraft types are confirmed.”

In 2023 RIAT helped the Italian Air Force celebrate their centenary with a designated area at the event’s showground which hosted a variety of static display from throughout their history. Brigadier-General Ron Walker, Deputy Commander Force Generation at 1 Canadian Air Division, and the former Air Advisor for the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff in London said:

“The Royal Canadian Air Force have a long and proud history that is intertwined with the Royal Air Force.
“We are looking forward to celebrating this history next summer at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
“Being the world-renowned event it is, we are working hard to mark the RCAF Centennial at the show next July and visitors can expect to see a diverse array of our assets and culture on display.”

More aircraft for RIAT 2024 will be announced weekly on Thursdays at around noon.

Tickets for the show are available now through the RIAT web site.

RIAT 2023

July 14 - 16

Messerschmitt Me 262

Messerschmitt Me 262 replica

The Royal International Air Tattoo always has at least two major themes. The Operational Theme in 2023 was 'Skytanker23'. This theme marked the 100th anniversary of the first successful air-to-air refuelling between two aircraft in 1923 and provided an excellent opportunity for international air forces to display their specialist tanker aircraft. The first to be announced was a Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker from Metrea Strategic Mobility, which was on static display. Check the table to see how the list grew since then.

A second theme was 'ITAF100th', celebrating the centenary of the Italian Air Force. Supporting this theme, a range of historic aircraft from Italy, with Italian Air Force markings, were grouped in the static display park. Amongst them was a trio of FIAT G.46 training aircraft although unfortunately the anticipated P-166C didn't make it.

RIAT 2023 also showcased the latest in sustainable aviation and technology including displays from Aerovolt and SkyFlyTech.

Several RIAT airshows tend to be remembered for the weather. People still talk about RIAT 2008, which had to be cancelled at the last minute because of the weather-related ground conditions. In 2022 it was the heat, when the show coincided with the hottest UK weather on record, reaching over 40 degrees in places and earning Met Office's first ever red 'extreme heat' warning.

Regrettably, the 2023 will also be remembered by some because of the weather - rain and wind this time - which resulted in the cancellation of most of Friday's flying. The weather stealing several of the headlines was a huge shame because it took the focus away from some superb flying and rarely-seen displays.

40+ years of V/STOL

The Spanish Navy McDonnell Douglas EAV-8B Matador II, or Harrier to you and me, has been a star attraction at previous RIATs and at Farnborough. The F-35 is also popular although still rarely seen except at military shows such as RAF Cosford and RIAT.

Even rarer is the sight of the two together, not only at the same show, but in the same display. That's what RIAT gave us, though.

The spectacle began with a formation pass, followed by a second pass with a break and glide down the runway to their respective synchronised hover spots. The F-35 disappeared quite quickly but the Harrier lingered for a good minute before departing to prepare for its later solo.

A RIAT special moment to savour and one there might not be many more chances to see.

F-35 and Spanish Navy Harrier

RAF F-35 and Spanish Navy Harrier

Although Friday's displays were decimated and Saturday's reduced, the programme on Sunday was virtually full, albeit with the loss of the Danish F-16 due to a technical problem and the Royal Jordanian Falcons, whose take-off coincided with a downpour and the consequent delay didn't leave air time for their display. The resulting cumulative, weather-affected, lists of display and static aircraft are on the show's web site and in the table on this page.

One of the undoubted highlights at RIAT23 was the Messerschmitt Me 262 replica from the Flugmuseum Messerschmitt, a reproduction of the first ever operational jet fighter. The aircraft was built in the USA and has been at the German Museum since 2006, making only very rare appearances away from its home.

Weather reduced its RIAT23 public flying appearances to just one, on Sunday, but anyone at the airfield on Wednesday will also have seen its impressive arrival in the company of the Rolls Royce Heritage Flight's Mustang and Spitfire, a sight that would have been difficult to imagine when an Me 262 last flew in UK skies nearly 80 years ago.

National Teams

We can normally depend of RIAT to provide a huge clutch of aerobatic teams representing nations around Europe and beyond. At one point it seemed that in 2023 we might get half-a-dozen examples. Even after the Turkish Stars disappeared from the lists, because their support aircraft were otherwise engaged with earthquake aftermath duties, there were still five. Not bad for a UK show.

The Red Arrows were there, of course, in their 8-ship configuration this year. They didn't feature in daily mixed flypasts in the way that we have come anticipate at RIAT but they were very busy on the ground in the Techno Zone®, the RAF Experience area and generally meeting the crowds, doing a lot to repair the team's reputation, which had become a little tarnished by reports of pilot behavioural issues.

Saudi Hawks

Saudi Hawks

Flying similar BAE Systems Hawk aircraft, the Saudi Hawks were one of the teams who managed to entertain the crowds on all three days of the Tattoo, even the very wet Friday. Not only their aircraft but the routines, too, were rather similar to those of the Red Arrows, although that is hardly surprising as ex-Red Arrows personnel have been involved in their training.

Fursan al Emarat

Fursan al Emarat

Just as the Red Arrows are linked to the Saudi Hawks, so the UAE's Fursan al Emarat have been guided by former members of the Patrouille de France. The Fursan have only been flying for just over a decade, but they are already well respected across several continents for unique displays in their seven MB-339NATs and their very bright and dense smoke system.

The Royal Jordanian Falcons are regulars at RIAT but this was not a good year for them. They were beaten by the heavy rain on Friday and crosswinds on Saturday. On Sunday they took to the air in their Extra 330LXs behind a Piper PA-28 Cherokee from Flying Scholarships for Disabled People to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that charity, which the Jordanian Royal family have supported for many years. The intention was for the flypast to be followed by their own display but a badly-timed heavy shower during the flypast ruined The Falcons' last chance of a display at RIAT23.

Spain’s Patrulla Águila were reduced from their standard seven aircraft to six C-101EB Aviojets but they, too, managed to take to the air on all three days of the show, although they were only able to display their full routine, complete with formation and solo aerobatics, on the Sunday, the weather reducing Friday's practice and Saturday's display to a rather less imposing flat variety.

German Tornado landing in the rain

Yes. It rained

Aircraft scheduled to fly (schedule was severely weather affected, especially on Friday)Check the show's web site for the official list of confirmed display aircraft
National aerobatic teams
Red Arrows BAe Hawk T1 (x8)Red Arrows (8 Hawk T1)
Fursan al EmarateFursan al Emarate (UAE National Team) (Aermacchi MB-339NAT x 7)
Saudi HawksSaudi Hawks: Seven BAe Hawk Mk.65A trainers (Royal Saudi Air Force)
Patrulla AguilaPatrulla Aguila (Spanish National Team): CASA C-101 Aviojet (6 aircraft)
Royal Jordanian Falcons, Extra 330LX x 4Royal Jordanian Falcons (4 x Extra 330LX)
Fighters / Attack / Multirole
Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning IILockheed Martin F-35B (RAF). Not a full display: hover demos
Dassault Rafale solo 2023 liveryDassault Rafale C Solo (Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace - French Air & Space Force)
Saab JAS-39C Gripen, Swedish Air ForceSaab JAS-39C 'Gripen' (Swedish Air Force)
Saab JAS-39 Gripen Czech Air Force Saab JAS-39C Gripen (Czech Air Force)
Saab JAS-39E Gripen ESaab JAS-39E Gripen (Saab)
Hawker Harrier McDonnell Douglas EAV-8B Harrier II (Spanish Navy)
RAF Typhoon, 2022-3 liveryEurofighter Typhoon FGR4 (RAF)
Italian TyphoonEurofighter F-2000A Typhoon (Italian Air Force)
Belgian F-16 Lockheed Martin / General Dynamics F-16AM (Belgian Air Component)
F-16, Royal Danish Air ForceGeneral Dynamics F-16AM Fighting Falcon (Royal Danish Air Force) (Friday only. No displays on Sat & Sun - tech problem)
F-18 Hornet, Finnish Air ForceMcDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet (Finnish Air Force)
Messerschmitt Me 262Messerschmitt Me 262 replica (Civilian: Flugmuseum Messerschmitt) (Sunday only. Cancelled Saturday due to weather).
BBMF LancasterLancaster 'PA474 Leader' (BBMF) (Was all 3 days. Flew Sunday only. Friday and Saturday cancelled due to weather).
BBMF Hurricane PZ865Hawker Hurricane (BBMF) (Was all 3 days. Cancelled due to weather)
BBMF Spitfire MK356Supermarine Spitfire (BBMF) (Was all 3 days. Cancelled due to weather)
Chinook, RAFChinook (RAF)
NH90, German Army AviationNH90 TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) (German Army Aviation)
MangustaAgusta AH-129D Mangusta (Italian Army) (previously static only)
HH139BLeonardo HH-139B: Search & Rescue demo (Italian Air Force)
Alenia (Leonardo) C-27J Spartan: Italian Air ForceLeonardo C-27J Spartan Tactical Transport (Italian Air Force). (Moved to static due to technical issue)
Saab SK60Saab SK.60 in Team 60 colours (Swedish Air Force)
Master (Alenia Aermacchi Master: Italian Air Force)Leonardo T-346A Master Jet Trainer (Italian Air Force)
Flypast /Demo (Skytanker theme)
StratotankerBoeing KC-135R Stratotanker (USAF) (also one on static Fri - Sun)
StratotankerBoeing C-135FR Stratotanker (Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace - French Air & Space Force)
RAF voyagerAirbus Voyager KC3 demonstrating refuelling an A400M
RAF voyagerAirbus Voyager KC3 demonstrating refuelling a pair of jets
Airbus A400M (German Air Force) (Sat & Sun) demonstrating refuelling a pair of Tornado aircraft on Sunday (see below)
Panavia TornadoPanavia Tornado ECR (German Air Force)
Panavia TornadoPanavia Tornado IDS (German Air Force)
CV-22B Osprey USAFCV-22B Osprey (US Air Force) simulated air-to-air refuelling flypast with MC-130J Commando II
MC-130J 'Commando'Lockheed Martin MC-130J Commando II (USAF) simulated air-to-air refuelling flypast with Osprey
Gloster Meteor
BBMF Lancaster
Gloster Meteor T7 with BBMF Lancaster, recreation of first successful air-to-air refuelling (Sat & Sun)(announced by RIAT on 22 June but removed from list before the show)
Heavy Bombers
B-52 StratofortressBoeing B-52H Stratofortress (USAF)

Quick facts about the 2023 show

Around 150,000 visitors
253 aircraft from 25 nations
48 air chiefs from various countries.

RIAT 2024

RIAT 2024 will be on July 19 - 21 and will celebrate 50 years of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Messerschmitt Me-262

Click for more about the Me-262

Italian Air Force Search & Rescue

Italian Air Force Search & Rescue

Fast jets are amongst the most popular flying displays at RIAT. This year they numbered almost a dozen and the displays were so outstanding it is hard to choose between them for special mention. The Flying Control Committee and FRIAT both decided that The French Air and Space Force's Rafale C Solo Display by Capt 'Bubu' Butin shone, awarding his display the Sir Douglas Bader Trophy for the Best Individual Flying Display and the As the Crow Flies Trophy respectively.

There can be no doubt that Bubu's very sharp display was deserving of recognition but it must have been difficult for the judges to decide between the Rafale and so many other stand-out displays, such as that by Captain Stephen de Vries in the Belgian F-16AM and the Finnish Air Force’s F/A-18C 'Hornet'. Nevertheless, considering the energy and variety in his display, even turning a roll into a rock 'n roll, it is hard to disagree with their verdict.

There were no fewer than three Gripens at Riat23. The Czech and Swedish Air Forces offered very competent displays by JAS-39C models, the Czech version attracting the most attention with more than one 'dump and burn'. However, it was the newer JAS-39E that really took the limelight. Entered and flown by Saab themselves, they were clearly out to impress the avid audience with an impeccable, if not over-exciting performance. They also clearly impressed the judges of the Paul Bowen Trophy who decided it was the best solo jet demonstration of the airshow.

Other fast jet offerings included the excellent and very photogenic F-16 from the Royal Danish Air Force, still in its striking Danish Flag livery (although a technical problem limited its display to the very challenging Friday); an RAF F-35, hovering above the runway alongside the Spanish Harrier, and Typhoons from the Italian Air Force and Royal Air Force. The judges clearly agreed with sentiment that has been expressed throughout the 2023 airshow season applauding the display by Flt. Lt. Matt Brighty and awarded him the Steedman Display Sword for the best display by a UK participant.

Of special interest under the SKYTANKER23 theme were the German Air Force, who made a special flypast with an A400M performing a simulated air-to-air refuelling with a pair of Tornados. The Tornados also demonstrated their own 'Buddy Buddy' refuelling during another special flypast on Saturday although Sunday's proposed repeat was a weather casualty. Regrettably, the much anticipated display when Martin Baker's Gloster Meteor and the BBMF Lancaster were due to represent the first air-to-air refuelling by British military aircraft was a cancellation prior to the show.

Fans of rotary wings may have missed the vintage varieties seen in earlier years but should have been very happy with the contemporary offerings at RIAT23. The most esteemed by the judges of the RAFCTE Trophy for the best display by an overseas participant was the Italian Army AH-129D Mangusta. The Mangusta has not been seen at RIAT for nearly 20 years and was originally listed as a static exhibit but was brought into the flying displays. It celebrated its RIAT return with a very lively performance, including wingovers, and ended with not a single, not a double, but a triple bow to its audience.

Another RIAT rarity was the German Army Aviation’s NH90 TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter), attending RIAT for only its second time. Less rare but always welcome was the RAF's Chinook with its normal airfield-based routine including crowd-pleasing backward stroll down the runway.

The second rotary-wing offering from the Italian Air Force was a rather long Leonardo HH-139B Search & Rescue demo featuring a rescue of an injured person and a theatrical pass with an airman hanging off the Italian flag beneath the helicopter for virtually the entire length of the runway.

As well as some awesome aircraft, there were some impressive visitors, too. The event was given the Royal seal of approval when The Prince and Princess of Wales visited on Friday with their three children. Space royalty in the form of Tim Peake was very evident, too, especially in the Techno Zone®, where he appeared at the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust’s Inspire Stage. In all, the Techno Zone® saw over 50,000 children across the three-day period interact with innovative tech exhibits. (... continued below the 'Winners' table)


The winners of the various awards at this year's RIAT
AwardAwarded ForWinner
Paul Bowen TrophyBest Solo Jet DemonstrationSAAB Gripen E (André Brännström)
Sir Douglas Bader TrophyBest Individual Flying DisplayFrench Air Force Rafale Solo Display (Capitaine Bertrand "Bubu" Butin).
RAFCTE Trophy Best Flying Demonstration by an Overseas ParticipantItalian Army A-129 Mangusta (crews from the 5th Aviation Regiment)
Steedman Display SwordBritish participant with the most notable contribution to RIATRAF Typhoon Display (Flight Lieutenant Matt Brighty)
As the Crow Flies Trophy(Best Overall Flying Demonstration, judged by FRIATFrench Air Force Rafale Solo Display (Capitaine Bertrand "Bubu" Butin).
Best Livery TrophyBest Special Paint Scheme, judged by FRIAT“Eagle Star” livery Eurofighter Typhoon (Tactical Air Wing 73, German Air Force)
King Hussein Memorial SwordMost Polished & Precise Flying DisplaySwedish Air Force SAAB SK.60 (Captain Nils Schylström)


Inevitably there were a few 'moan moments'. The first was before visitors even got into the grounds. For quite a while beforehand, the organisers had been pleading with visitors to pack light for a quicker flow through security. And indeed, as everyone approached the check-in gates, there were separate lanes for those who had heeded the plea and 'hold luggage' lanes for those who hadn't. Except that it didn't work that way. As people approached the would-be 'fast lane' they were told that either lane would do. There was no fast lane after all. And checking was so thorough that it took ages. And ages. We all know that there are a multitude of threats these days: not only the traditional threats against military targets but threats also from people who have a point to make in favour of, or against, the use of natural resources, the political system or preference for a particular belief system.

We all know about those threats. We all know more or less how many people will attend the show. We all know when peak times are. And it wouldn't take too much effort to work out how long a search would take. Simple sums would tell how many security staff and how many lanes would be needed. Unfortunately, there was no military precision in one of other of those areas. Some people reported two-hour queues. If that was true it may have been exceptional but long queues there certainly were on Friday and Saturday. Something changed on Sunday. Either the checking was quicker or more cursory but for whatever reason, there seemed to be no extreme delays on that last day of the show. Hopefully the experience will be treated as a learning tool for 2024. Let's see.

Another little gripe (sorry, but we have to be balanced) was the sparcity of the area between the blue and green entrances. It did seem to be an awful long way from the green gate to the first 'action'. There were statics, and some good ones, too, with some very good, photogenic, backgrounds, but the area did seem to lack ground attractions for any members of the family groups who have not yet caught the aircraft bug. End of moan!

So, was it a great show? Yes. But was it a really great show? Well, leaving aside the entry queues, and weather and consequent cancellations, and despite some truly rare displays, notably the Messerschmitt and the B-52, there was a slight feeling of 'what next' by the time the flying finished. It's hard to put a finger on it, and we have to bear in mind the nature of the airshow as predominantly military with a focus on current and recent aircraft. Nevertheless, perhaps a section featuring some more classics, putting the current aircraft in context, would fill that gap.

But any downsides there may be have to be taken in the round and, let's face it, nowhere else in the UK are there five national teams in the same show; participation by 25 nations, despite contemporary military pressures, simulated air-to-air refuelling and two V/STOLs spanning over 40 years flying together. Yes. It was a really great show. The dates for RIAT '24 are July 19 - 21. Can't wait.

Car parking and Shuttle bus

New for 2023, visitors needed a pass for car parking although no-one seemed to be checking them. A pre-booked free shuttle bus was also available from Swindon Bus Station and Cheltenham Racecourse.

Static and support aircraft. Check the show's web site for the official list of confirmed display and static aircraft
Most were in situ Sat & Sunday. Only some on Friday.
Aermacchi MB.326E (Private) CANCELLED
Aermacchi MB.326K (Private) CANCELLED
Aero Vodochody L-159 ALCA (Czech Republic Air Force)
Aero Vodochody L-159E Honey Badger (Draken Europe) CANCELLED
Aeromere Falco F8L (Private Owner)
Aérospatiale Gazelle (Private support aircraft)
Agusta A109S Grand (QinetiQ)
Agusta-Bell HH-212A (Italian Air force) CANCELLED
Agusta AH-129D Mangusta (Italian Army)
AgustaWestland AW139 (Irish Air Corps)
Airbus A330 MRTT (Royal Saudi Air Force)
Airbus A330 MRTT (NATO)
Airbus Atlas C1 (RAF)
Airbus Helicopters AS365 N2 Dauphin II (Royal Navy)
Airbus Helicopters H145M LUH SOP (x2) (German Air Force) (CANCELLED)
Airbus Helicopters H175M) Airbus Helicopters)
Airbus Helicopters Juno HT1 (x2) (RAF)
Airbus Helicopters Jupiter HT1 (RAF)
Alenia C-27J Spartan (Lithuanian Air Force)
Alenia C-27J Spartan (Zambian Air Force) CANCELLED
American General AG-5B Tiger (Private)
AMX A-11A Ghibli (x2) (Italian Air Force)
Antonov An-26 Curl (Romanian Air Force)
Avro RJ70 (QinetiQ)
BAC Jet Provost T3a (Newcastle Jet Provost Group)
BAE Systems Hawk Mk.167 (x2) (Qatar Emiri Air Force)
BAE Systems Hawk T2 (x2) (RAF)
Beechcraft 200 Super King Air (2Excel)
Beechcraft Avenger T1 (Royal Navy)
Beechcraft G18S (Private - Italian AF Centenary) (CANCELLED)
Beechcraft Texan T1 (x2) (RAF)
Boeing 737-700 (Argentine Air Force) CANCELLED
Boeing Apache AH2 (UK Army Air Corps)
Boeing B-52H Stratofortress (USAF) (also one flying)
Boeing C-17A Globemaster III (RAF)
Boeing C-17A Globemaster III (USAF)
Boeing C-17A Globemaster III (UAE Support)
Boeing CH-47F Chinook (x2) (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
Boeing KC-46A Pegasus (USAF) CANCELLED
Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker (Metrea)
Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker (USAF Skytanker)
Boeing KC-767A (Italian Air Force)
Boeing Poseidon MRA1 (RAF)
British Aerospace Hawk Mk.51 (Finnish Air Force) CANCELLED (Fleet grounded).
Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander (Cranfield Aerospace Solutions)
Casa C-295 Transport (Spanish Air Force. Supporting Patrulla Aguila)
CASA C-295M (Polish Air Force Support aircraft)
CASA C-295M (Czech Republic Air Force - support role)
CASA CN-235 (French Air & Space Force) Support
Cessna 172S Skyhawk (Flying Scholarships for Disabled People)
Cessna 195 (Private support aircraft)
Cessna L-19A Bird Dog (0-1 Aviation) (CANCELLED)
Cessna Citation (Spanish Navy) Support
Cessna SkyCourier (Textron Aviation)
Comco Ikarus C42C (RAF Microlight Flying Association)
Dassault Falcon 20 (Draken Europe)
Dassault Falcon 900EX (Swiss Air Force) (Visitor - Sunday only)
Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet (Top Aces)
De Havilland Vampire FB.52 (Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron)
DHC Chipmunk T10 (Private)
DHC Chipmunk T10 (Private)
DHC-6 Twin Otter Guardian 400 (De Havilland Canada)
Diamond DA62 MPP (2Excel)
Dornier Do-228 (Italian Army)
Embraer ERJ-145 (BAE Systems Corporate Air Travel) (Visiting on Saturday only)
Embraer Phenom T1 (RAF)
Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin (French Navy) CANCELLED
Eurocopter EC-135 (Irish Air Corps)
Eurofighter EF2000 (German Air Force)
Eurofighter Typhoon (Qatar Emiri Air Force)
Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 (RAF)
Eurofighter Typhoon T3 (RAF)
Evektor EV-97 Eurostar (RAF Microlight Flying Association)
Fairchild 24 Argus (Private)
FIAT G.46 (x3) (Private - Italian AF Centenary)
FIAT G.91R (Private owner) (CANCELLED)
Hawker Hunter F58 (Hawker Hunter Aviation)
General Dynamics F-16AM Fighting Falcon x2 (Belgian Air Force) (also one flying)
General Dynamics F-16BM Fighting Falcon (Royal Danish Air Force (also one flying)
General Dynamics F-16AM Fighting Falcon (x2)(Royal Netherlands Air Force)
General Dynamics F-16CJ Fighting Falcon (x2) (USAF)
Grob Prefect T1 (x2) (RAF)
Grob Tutor T1 (x2) (RAF)
Gulfstream C-37A (USAF) CANCELLED
Gulfstream G500 Gulfstream (Gulfstream)
Gulfstream G550 CAEW (Italian Air Force)
Hawker Hunter Mk 58 (Hawker Hunter Aviation)
Learjet C-21A (USAF)
LET L-410UVP Turbolet light transport aircraft (Slovak Air Force)
Leonardo AW189 search and rescue helicopter (Bristow Helicopters / HM Coastguard)
Leonardo C-27J Spartan (Italian Air Force) (CANCELLED)
Leonardo C-27J Spartan (Lithuanian Air Force) (CANCELLED)
Leonardo Merlin HC4 (Royal Navy)
Leonardo HH-101A Caesar (Italian Air Force)
Leonardo P-72A (Italian Air Force)
Leonardo UH-169B (Italian Army)
Leonardo Wildcat AH1 (UK Army Air Corps)
Lockheed C-130H Hercules (Royal Jordanian Falcons)
Lockheed C-130H Hercules (Royal Netherlands Air Force) (CANCELLED)
Lockheed C-130H Hercules (Royal Saudi Air Force) Support
Lockheed C-130H Hercules (UAE Support)
Lockheed CP-140M Aurora (Royal Canadian Air Force)
Lockheed KC-130J Hercules (Italian Air Force)
Lockheed U-2 (USAF)
Lockheed Martin CC-130J Hercules (Royal Canadian Air Force)
Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (USAF)
Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (x2) (Royal Netherlands Air Force) CANCELLED
Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II (RAF)
Lockheed Martin WC-130J Weatherbird (UASF)
Max Holste MH1521 Broussard (Private)
McDonnell Douglas EAV-8B Harrier II (Spanish Air Force. Also one flying)
McDonnell Douglas AV-8B+ Harrier II (Italian Air Force)
McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II (x2) (Hellenic Air Force)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle (USAF)
Mil Mi-171Sh Hip (Czech Air Force)
NH90 NFH Caiman (French Navy) CANCELLED
NH90 NFH (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
NH90 TTH (German Army Aviation)
North American Harvard Mk. IV (Flying Legends GmbH)
North American P-51D Mustang (Flying Legends GmbH)
North American P-51D Mustang (Rolls Royce Heritage Flight)
North American T-6 Texan (x2) (Private - Italian AF Centenary)
Panavia A-200A Tornado (x2) (Italian Air Force)
Piaggio P-149D (x2) (Private - Italian AF Centenary)
Piaggio P-166C (Private - Italian AF Centenary) (CANCELLED)
Piaggio P.180 Avanti (Italian Air Force)
Pilatus PC-12 (Finnish Air Force) support
Pilatus PC-21 (Pilatus Aircraft Ltd)
Piper PA-31 Navajo (2Excel / Leonardo)
Pipistel Velis Electro (AeroVolt)
Reims-Cessna F152 (Halton Aero Club)
Reims-Cessna FR172H (Private)
SAAB 2000 (SAAB) (Support)
SAAB 340B (Cranfield University)
SAAB JAS-39D Gripen (Swedish Air Force) (also one flying)
SAAB JAS-39C Gripen (Hungarian Air Force)
SAAB SK.60 (specially painted) (Swedish Air Force) (also one flying in Team 60 colours)
Scottish Aviation Bulldog MK.124 (Private)
Scottish Aviation Bulldog T1 (Private Owner) (CANCELLED)
Sequoia Falco F8L (Private)
SIAI-Marchetti SF.260AM (Private - Italian AF Centenary)
SIAI-Marchetti SF.260D (Belgian Air Force)
SIAI-Marchetti U-208A (x2) (Italian Air Force)
Sikorsky CH-53G (German Air Force)
Sikorsky S-92A search and rescue helicopter ( Bristow Helicopters / HM Coastguard)
Slingsby T66 Nipper (Aerial Vocations Limited).
Socata TBM-700 (French Air & Space Force)
Socata TB-30 Epsilon (x2) (Portuguese Air Force)
Stinson Reliant (Navy Wings)
Sukhoi Su-22M Fitter (Polish Air Force)
Supermarine Seafire XVII (Navy Wings)
Supermarine Spitfire XIX (Rolls Royce Heritage Flight)
Tecnam P2008JC (RAF Waddington Flying Club)
Vans RV-12 (Southampton University Aviation Society)
Westland Gazelle AH1 (x2) (UK Army Air Corps)
Westland Lynx AH7 (Project Lynx)
Westland Scout AH1 (Historic Army Aircraft Flight)
Westland Sea King Mk.48 (Historic Helicopters)
Westland Wasp HAS1 (Navy Wings)

In case there are mistakes or changes, please check the show's site for the latest list.
Appearances are always subject to technical, weather and other constraints.

RIAT 2022

July 15 - 17

Black Eagles

The Black Eagles

Following a pandemic-induced starvation since 2019 a sell-out crowd descended on RAF Fairford for an absolute feast of a show in 2022. Superlatives abounded with some of the rarest aircraft and greatest displays in the highest temperatures producing a show that will be ranked amongst the best in a very long time.

With the pandemic crisis on the wane but not over, and an international conflict in its infancy, it was inevitable that many would fear a negative impact from the burden of these disruptive but uncontrollable circumstances. However, the renewed management team at RIAT ensured that any such disruption was kept to an absolute minimum and, although a few countries were inevitably unable to give the support that might otherwise have been forthcoming, air arms from around the world proved how resilient the airshow community can be.

Much of the publicity during this outstanding event surrounded 'Top Gun' star Tom Cruise, believed to have flown his Aerospatiale AS350B3 Ecureuil helicopter to the show, and meeting some of the teams as well as members of the public. It is good to know that the event has such a high-profile fan and he seems to have made a lot of people very happy.

Also featuring at the show were Tim Peake, who flew (but did not display) a Gazelle helicopter and smiled through a plethora of ground-based meeting and greeting; and Col. Charles M. Duke Jnr, former USAF fighter pilot and lunar module pilot on Apollo 16.

But for us the stars of the show were the 266 aircraft and 1,500 crew who flew the twenty-plus hours of flying displays and hosted the static aircraft.

Exactly which of those displays was the real star became a matter of debate but the people's favourite and overall winners of both the prestigious King Hussein Memorial Sword and the FRIAT 'Crow Flies' award were the Republic of Korea Air Force 'Black Eagles'. Few would deny them the accolades they won here and at the few other UK venues they were able to attend.

They were, undoubtedly, the biggest draw, back at RIAT after an absence of ten years. Flying eight KAI T-50B jets, in precision formations, drawing deserved applause at several junctures, possibly loudest when they drew their famous "Taegeuk" representation of the South Korean flag in aerial smoke.

The team flew at three UK airshows in 2022 and even flew flypasts at Shuttleworth and Liverpool, but RIAT is the only venue where they performed their full display. Not only that, but on Sunday they flew in formation with the Red Arrows. Credit to them, too, for allowing themselves to be seen around the showground. Teams sometimes have meet and greet events in shelters, but the South Koreans were just there, out and about, strolling around with other show-goers, visiting the attractions, much to the delight of visitors who happened to see them.

The other national teams were somewhat overshadowed by the novelty and pizzazz of the Koreans but a close second place must go to Frecce Tricolori, flying their ten MB-339s as opposed to the South Korean's eight aircraft, and interspersing the display with some very high energy solo performances by 'Pony 10'. In any other company their massive variety of crosses, splits, rejoins and aerial smoke artwork could easily have stolen the show. (... continued below)

Airbus 'Beluga' at RIAT 2022

Airbus A330 'Beluga'

Boeing E4b Advanced Airborne Command Post

Boeing E4b Advanced Airborne Command Post

Frecce Tricolori

Frecce Tricolori

Belgian F-16 'Dream Viper'

Belgian F-16 'Dream Viper'

Czech PZL W3 Sokol

Czech Republic Air Force PZL W3 Sokol

Aircraft listed to fly Check the show's web site for the official list of confirmed display aircraft
National aerobatic teams
Red Arrows BAe Hawk T1 (x7)Red Arrows (all 3 days)
Black EaglesRepublic of Korea Air Force 'Black Eagles' (eight KAI T-50B jets) (all 3 days)
Show's announcement
Frecce Tricolori 10x Aermacchi AT-339PANFrecce Tricolori 10x Aermacchi AT-339PAN (Italian National Team)
Royal Jordanian Falcons, Extra 330LX x 4Royal Jordanian Falcons (4 x Extra 330LX)
Baby Blue Danish Air ForceBaby Blue Display Team: Saab T-17 Supporter (x 6) (Royal Danish Air Force)
PC-7 Team (Pilatus PC-7 (x9), Swiss Air Force)
Silver SwallowsSilver Swallows Display Team (Pilatus PC-9M (x4) Irish Air Corps)
Jet Fighters / Attack
Lockheed Martin F-35 (Flypasts and hover only. Weekend only)
RAF Typhoon, 2022-3 liveryEurofighter Typhoon FGR4 (RAF) (all 3 days)
Italian Eurofighter F-2000A (Typhoon)Eurofighter F-2000A (Typhoon) (Italian Air Force)
Lockheed Martin F-16C 'Zeus' demo team: Hellenic Air ForceF16C 'Zeus' Demo Team (Hellenic Air Force)
Belgian F-16 Lockheed Martin / General Dynamics F-16AM (Belgian Air Component)
Spanish EF-18A HornetMcDonnell Douglas EF-18A+ Hornet (Spanish Air Force)
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet (Swiss Air Force)
Saab JAS-39C Gripen, Hungarian Air ForceJAS-39C 'Gripen' (Hungarian Air Force)
Saab JAS-39C Gripen, Swedish Air ForceJAS-39C 'Gripen' (Swedish Air Force)
Helicopters / Rotary Wing
Chinook, RAFChinook (RAF) (Saturday and Sunday)
NH90 TTH (Finnish Army Aviation) CANCELLED
NH90, German Army AviationNH90 TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) (German Army Aviation)
Leonardo AW149 (Coastguard)Leonardo AW149 (Leonardo Helicopters)
Leonardo Wildcat HMA2 (Royal Navy) (CANCELLED as a flying display. Joined the static display)
PZL W-3 Sokol (Czech Air Force)PZL W-3 Sokol helicopter (Czech Air Force)
Mil Mi-24Mil Mi-24 Hind (Hungarian Air Force)
OspreyCV-22B Osprey (US Air Force)
Sk.60 (Swedish Air Force) CANCELLED
Pilatus PC-9M 'Swift' (Slovenian Air Force)Pilatus PC-9M ‘Swift’ (Slovenian Air Force)
Hawk Mk 51 Finnish Air ForceBritish Aerospace Hawk Mk.51 solo display (Finnish Air Force)
Leonardo T-346A Master Jet Trainer (Italian Air Force)
Mustang X-Ray Demo Team (Pilatus PC-21 x2) French AF Mustang X-Ray Demo Team (a pair of Pilatus PC-21 advanced turboprop trainers) (French Air and Space Force)
Aerobatic / Formation
The Blades (pair only) (Flypast on Friday only in formation with the Boeing 727)
Role Demos
Eurofighter intercepting Hercules, Austrian role demoAustrian Air Force QRA demo (a pair of EF2000s intercepting a C-130K Hercules)
Mil Mi-171 'Hip' Czech Air ForceMil Mi-171 Hip in Combat rescue demo with Hind (Czech Air Force)
Mil Mi-24 'Hind'Mil Mi-24 Hind in Combat rescue demo with Hip (Czech Air Force)
BBMF LancasterBBMF Lancaster 'PA474 Leader' (Sat & Sun)
BBMF Spitfire MK356Supermarine Spitfire (BBMF) (Sat & Sun)
BBMF HurricaneHawker Hurricane (unspecified) BBMF (Sat & Sun)
Vickers Supermarine Spitfire PS853 Vickers Supermarine Spitfire X1X PS853 G-RRGN: Rolls Royce Heritage Flight (Friday only)
Boeing B-52H Stratofortress (USAF) CANCELLED
Leonardo C-27J Spartan Tactical Transport (Italian Air Force)
Boeing 757-2K2 (Royal New Zealand Air Force) CANCELLED
Boeing E-3A Sentry (NATO AEWC Force) CANCELLED
P-8A PoseidonBoeing Poseidon MRA1 (Friday only. Flypast with Red Arrows)
Additionally there was a substantial display of static and support aircraft including the following
Aermacchi T-339A (Italian Air Force)
Agusta A109 (QinetiQ) (SUPPORT)
Agusta AW109SP (Private) (VISITING)
Airbus A319-112 (Hungarian Air Force) (Support)
Airbus A340VIP transport (German Air Force: RIAT debut of the type)
Airbus A400M (German Air Force)
Airbus Atlas C1 (RAF)
Airbus CC-150T Polaris (Royal Canadian Air Force)
Airbus Helicopters AS365 Dauphin (Lithuanian Air Force)
Airbus Helicopters H145M LUH SOF (German Air Force) CANCELLED
Airbus Helicopters Juno HT1 (x2) (RAF)
Airbus Helicopters Jupiter HT1 (RAF)
Airbus Helicopters Puma HC2 (x2) (RAF)
Alenia C-27J Spartan Tactical Transport (Slovakian Air Force)
Alpi Aviation P300 (Fly Fano Team)
Alpi Aviation Pioneer 200 (x2) (Fly Fano Team)
American General AG-5B Tiger (Private)
AMX A-11B Ghibli (Italian Air Force)
Antonov An-30 'Clank' (photo reconnaissance aircraft) (Romanian Air Force)
Asso Aerei (x3) (Fly Fano Team)
Auster AOP6 (Private)
Auster AOP9 (Private)
BAE Systems Hawk T2 (x2) (RAF)
BAE Systems Hawk Mk.167 (Qatar Emiri Air Force)
Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine (Textron Aviation)
Beechcraft Avenger T1 750 (RN Naval Air Squadron)
Beechcraft 200 Super King Air (2Excel Aviation) CANCELLED
Beechcraft Texan T1 (RAF)
Bell Boeing CV-22B Osprey (USAF)
Bell Sioux AH1 (Historic Army Aircraft Flight)
Boeing 727 Oil Spill Response (2Excel Aviation)
Boeing B-17G 'Sally B'
Boeing B-52H Stratofortress (US Air Force) CANCELLED
Boeing E-4B (US Air Force) CANCELLED
Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker (USAF)
Boeing KC-46A Pegasus (USAF)
Boeing Poseidon MRA1 (Maritime Patrol) (RAF)
Bombardier Global Express (ISR) (Raytheon)
British Aerospace Avro RJ100 (QinetiQ)
Canadair CL-13B Sabre (Mistral Warbirds)
CASA C-295MPA Persuader (Royal Air Force of Oman)
CASA C-295M (Finnish Air Force)
CASA C-295M Ala 35 (Spanish Air Force)
Cessna 172RG Cutlass (Fly Fano Team)
Cessna Bird Dog (Civilian)
Cessna Grand Caravan EX (Textron Aviation)
Cessna O-2 Skymaster (Civilian)
Cessna TP.103 Citation (Swedish Air Force Historic Flight) (Support)
Comco Ikarus C42 (RAF Rapid Capabilities Office)
De Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide (Scillonia Airways) (visiting only)
Douglas A-4N Skyhawk (Top Aces)
Embraer ERJ-145 (BAE Systems) VISITING
Embraer KC-390 Millennium (Brazilian Air Force)
Embraer Phenom T1 (RAF)
Embraer Xingu (French Navy)
Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 (x2) (RAF)
Eurofighter Typhoon (Kuwait Air Force)
Evektor EV-97 Eurostar (RAF Microlight Flying Association)
Fuji FA-200 Aero Subaru (Private Operator) VISITING
Gloster Meteor T7(Mod) (Martin-Baker) CANCELLED
Grob Prefect T1 (x2) (RAF)
Grob Tutor T1 (x2) (RAF - Oxford Uni Air Squadron)
Grob Viking T1 (RAF - Central Gliding school)
Hawker Hunter T72 (Hawker Hunter Aviation)
Ikarus C42 (x3) (AirBourne Aviation)
Ikarus C42B (RAF Microlight Flying Association)
Kawasaki C-2 (Japan Air Self Defence Force)
Leonardo AW189 (HM Coastguard)
Leonardo Merlin HC4 (Royal Navy) CANCELLED
Leonardo Merlin HM2 (Royal Navy)
Leonardo T-346A Master (Italian Air Force)
Leonardo Wildcat HMA2 (Royal Navy)
Leonardo Wildcat AH1 (Royal Navy)
Leonardo AW139 (QinetiQ)
LET L-410UVP Turbolet (Lithuanian Air Force) CANCELLED
LET L-410UVP Turbolet (Slovenian Air force) (CANCELLED)
Lockheed C-130H Hercules (Royal Jordanian Air Force)
Lockheed Hercules C5 (RAF)
Lockheed P-3C Orion (German Navy)
Lockheed TP.84 Hercules (Swedish Air Force)
Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules (Royal Bahraini Air Force)
Lockheed Martin CC-130J Hercules (Royal Canadian Air Force)
Lockheed Martin F-16AM (x2) (Belgian Air Force).
Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (USAF)
Lockheed Martin MC-130J Commando II (USAF)
Lockheed U-2S 'Dragon Lady' (USAF)
Max Holste MH.1521 Broussard (Bremont Watch Company)
McDonnell Douglas EF-18B Hornet (Spanish Air Force)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle x2 (USAF)
Mil Mi-24 Hind (Hungarian Air Force)
NH90 (German Army Aviation)
North American P-51D Mustang "Frances Dell"
Panavia Tornado IDS (x2) (German Air Force)
Piaggio P.166C (Private) CANCELLED
Piaggio P.180AM Avanti (Italian Air Force Support)
Pilatus PC-7 MKX (Pilatus)
Pilatus PC-9M ‘Swift’ (Slovenian Air Force)
Pilatus PC-12 (Irish Air Corps)
Pilatus PC-24 (Pilatus)
Piper L-4H Grasshopper (Private)
Piper PA-18 Super Cub (Private)
Piper PA-28 Cherokee (Flying Scholarships for Disabled People)
Piper PA-31 Navajo (2Excel Aviation)
Boeing P-8A Poseidon (US Navy)
PZL M28 Skytruck (Estonian Air Force)
Reims-Cessna F152 (Halton Aero Club)
Reims-Cessna FR172H (AKS Aviation
Republic P47D Thunderbolt 'Nellie B' (Ultimate Fighters)
Robinson R44 (Private)
SAAB J-32B Lansen (Swedish Air Force Historic Flight)
Saab JAS-39D 'Gripen' (Swedish Air Force)
Saab JAS-39D 'Gripen' (Hungarian Air Force)
SAAB Sk35C Draken (Swedish Air Force Historic Flight)
SAAB Sk37E Viggen (Swedish Air Force Historic Flight)
Saab Sk.60 (Swedish Air Force)
Scottish Aviation Bulldog Mk.124 (Private) CANCELLED
Sikorsky CH-53G (German Air Force)
Sikorsky S-92
Slingsby T67M-260 Firefly (Anglo Europe Aviation Ltd
Socata TB30 Epsilon (x2) Esquadra 101 (Portuguese Air Force)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVIE (Suffolk Spitfire Ltd)
Tecnam P-92 Echo (Fly Fano Team)
Tecnam P2002JF Sierra (Halton Aero Club)
Tecnam P2008JC ( RAF Waddington Flying Club)
Trago Mills SAH-1 (Aerial Vocations Ltd)
Westland Gazelle HT2 (Gazelle Squadron Support)
Westland Gazelle HT3 (Gazelle Squadron)
Westland Gazelle HT3
Westland Sea King HAR3 (Search and Rescue) (Historic Helicopters)
Westland Sea Lynx Mk88A (German Navy)
Westland Wessex HU5 (Historic Helicopters)

Check the show's list

Quick facts

Over 200,000 people
266 aircraft
1,500 crew members
Kingdom of Bahrain became the 57th RIAT participant

The Irish 'Silver Swallows' were back at RIAT after an absence of 25 years. RIAT was their first of four public displays flown to mark the Irish Air Corps’ 100th anniversary. Not as fast or eye-grabbing as some of the jet teams but the skills should not be underestimated. The Royal Jordanian Falcons paid another of their regular and welcome visits, flying their royally-painted four Extra XLs with traditional aplomb and the Royal Danish Air Force Baby Blue Display Team followed the operational 'training' theme in their six Saab T-17 Supporter trainers. They were one of the first teams to announce their participation and were at the Air Tattoo for the very first time. Their creditable first RIAT performance was a bit too high to make the best impact so might be even further enhanced with more crowd engagement.

From the Swiss Air Force, the PC-7 team made an impression by beginning in formation with the same nation's F/A-18C Hornet before the respective teams broke off for their separate displays.

So, what about the Red Arrows? Yes, they were there, too, making formation flypasts with a different partner each day and moving on to their own daily displays. The general chatter around the ground was a bit negative, possibly because of the inevitable comparisons with the more unusual displays from foreign teams which had the advantage of novelty, whereas the Red Arrows and their routine are familiar to most of the crowd. The reduction in number from nine to seven also reduced the impact just a tad.

Few would wish to be negative about the contribution made by the Red Arrows to the show. Nor would many underestimate their value in supporting RAF recruitment and the nation's commercial interests. It's just that, from an airshow point of view, the formations and manoeuvres of several of the other national teams are more varied, less familiar and consequently made more impact. To be fair, the Red Arrows are still flying rather elderly aircraft no longer used, even in training, in the UK, whereas the team making the greatest impression are flying state-of-the-art jets being demonstrated in various parts of the world to promote sales. Not fair competition, really.

If the stars of the formation teams were the Black Eagles - and they were - the star of the Friday arrivals and of the static park was surely the USAF E-4B 'Nightwatch', one of only four in the world, which flew in towards the end of Friday to make its airshow debut outside the US. This extremely rare aircraft, based on the Boeing 747-200, made a special appearance at RIAT 2022 to mark the 60th Anniversary of the National Airborne Operations Center as well as the 75th Anniversary of the USAir Force.

The E4-B, also nicknamed the 'Doomsday Plane', is a survivable 'Advanced Airborne Command Post' (AACP) and serves as an airborne command, control and communications centre dealing with any Emergency Action Messages. One of its roles would be to host and transport the American President and American Defense Secretary in the event of an international emergency.

The Nightwatch's gear-up flypast before coming round again to land, and its very visible presence in the static park for the duration of the show, will be remembered by RIAT enthusiasts, and the topic of many discussions, for years to come.

It was good to have a USAF star because, although the main theme of RIAT 2022 was the 75th Anniversary of the US Air Force, and although the theme was well represented in the static park, there was not a great deal of flying by any of the US armed services. A notable exception was the Bell-Boeing CV-22B Osprey but even that display seemed more limited than normal.

The USAF were also due to bring two of their Boeing B-52H Stratofortress bombers. One was going to perform a flypast during the displays on Saturday and Sunday. The other was due to be on static display. Just like the South Korean Black Hawks, this would have been their first flying display at RIAT for ten years. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The pair were regrettable cancellations for operational reasons. (... continued below).

Pilatus PC9M, Slovenian Air Force

Pilatus PC9M, Slovenian Air Force

48th Fighter Wing 70th Anniversary

48th Fighter Wing 70th Anniversary

Royal Jordanian Falcons

Royal Jordanian Falcons

Red Arrows and Boeing Poseidon

Red Arrows and Boeing Poseidon

EF18a+ Hornet, Spanish Air Force

EF18a+ Hornet, Spanish Air Force

The operational theme of RIAT 2022 was ‘Training the Next Generation Air Force’ allowing a focus on training aircraft. This theme was better represented than the USAF anniversary in the flying displays, but perhaps even more welcome were rarely seen 'training' exhibits in the RIAT static park. Foremost amongst them, the trio from the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight, who sent the training versions of their Viggen, Draken and Lansen, arriving in formation in the middle of Friday afternoon, each performing a low-level flypast before coming round to land.

In the flying displays the theme was well represented by Captain Eemeli Vähäsöyrinki's Finnish Air Force Hawk Mk.51 solo. Although the display was not flown in the hoped-for specially painted aircraft, there was some visual compensation in the form of the invariably-active bright smokewinders mounted on the wings.

After winning 'best display' in both 2015 and 2017, the Slovenian Air Force PC-9M Swift was back with a traditionally impressive display and with a second Slovenian PC-9M and Let-410 Turbolet on static.

In another RIAT debut, the French Air and Space Force’s "Mustang X-Ray Demo Team" flew a pair of Pilatus PC-21 advanced turboprop trainers supporting the same 'training' theme. There are several French two-ship tactical demonstration teams, this one demonstrated air-to-air and air-to-ground tactics in both formation and opposition configurations. It is early days for the team, formed only in the year before the show, but they are already showing some promise, which may be enhanced further in future years with a little more focus on performing to the crowd-line.

RIAT 2022 was something of a Pilatus-fest with no fewer than three teams and a solo in the flying displays and four Pilatus variations amongst the statics.

A rarity on the display circuit was the first ever display at RIAT by the Austrian Air Force QRA Demonstration: a pair of interceptor EF2000s, flown by Captain Gerald Gradauer & Captain Alen Kesic, checking out an uncommunicative Lockheed C-130K Hercules, flown by Captain Joachim Eder and Warrant Officer Andreas Thalhammer. The demonstration won the RAFCTE trophy for the Best Flying Demonstration by an overseas participant. The accompanying commentary was also very informative, describing the sequence of events during the intervention; the relative positions of the aircraft and the way the required radio frequencies are made known to the intruder. The demonstration was followed by the EF2000s performing a pairs display illustrating various forms of a dogfight on Saturday but it had to be abandoned on Sunday because of a technical problem affecting one of the EF2000s.

Another RIAT debut, and possibly also a swansong as the type is due to leave service, was the Czech Air Force Mil Mi-171sh 'Hip', performing a pairs Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) tactical pairs demonstration with their Mil Mi-24V 'Hind'. A second Mil Mi-24 Hind, this one from the Hungarian Air Force, had Lieutenant Colonels Attila Suszter and Sándor Makai flying the beast of a machine like a leaf in a breeze, and making sure that everyone at both ends, as well as the centre, of the display line could witness the vigour of their display.

The Czech Air Force also gave a very unusual W-3 Sokol solo helicopter display, during which two rescuers were lowered and hoisted and were even flown whilst suspended. Also for fans of rotary wings, Germany sent for static display their CH-53G, which has not been to RIAT for over a decade, and the German Army Aviation sent an example of their NH90 TTH helicopter for the flying display. Including the CH-53G and NH90, the German military sent a total of 11 aircraft to RIAT: fighters and transports as well as helicopters.

The RAF were supportive, as always. In addition to the Red Arrows they had the Typhoon displaying on all 3 days and the Chinook and BBMF trio over the weekend, although it was rather strange that the nation's own air force had no flying contributions to the show's 'training' theme. Overall it just seemed that the home team lacked a bit of eminence this year, the welcome exception being the Chinook, whose team, led by Flight Lieutenant Matthew 'Schmitty' Smyth, were as impressive as ever and won the Steedman Display Sword for the best demonstration by a UK participant.

For many, RIAT is about fast jets. As well as the RAF's Typhoon FGR4 and the aforementioned Austrian pair in the QRA demo, there was also an Italian F-2000A, although it was a bit too high and distant to make as much impact as the others. More impressive were the F-16s, although there were fewer this year than normal. Presented in a basic grey livery rather than a special paint scheme, the F-16C of Zeus Demo Team from the Hellenic Air Force was somewhat overshadowed, both in appearance and in performance, by the first RIAT display of Captain Steven “Vrieske” De Vries flying the Belgian F-16AM. As well as bringing along the much admired 'Dream Viper', he gave enthusiasts a rarer chance to see X-Tiger over the weekend when Dream Viper developed a technical problem.

There were two Hornets in the RIAT22 nest. As well as the Swiss F-18C, the show offered the first chance since 2017 to see the Spanish Air Force EF-18A. The solo jet display prize, though, was well deserved by the Hungarian JAS-39C Gripen, which, in addition to its vigourous display, guaranteed a lot of attention with several fuel-dump-and-burns.

Flypasts were quite a feature of the Air Tattoo, although the much anticipated NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force Sentry aircraft was a cancellation. Of those that did appear, there were various joint flypasts with the Red Arrows, beginning on Friday with an RAF Poseidon MRA.1, following on Saturday with the RAF's VIP-configured Voyager KC.2 in its union flag livery and on Sunday with the Black Eagles.

Perhaps even more appealing were flypasts without the Red Arrows. On Saturday there were two flypasts by the amazing Airbus A330-743L Beluga XL, taking a break from its normal job of ferrying aircraft parts from around Europe for final assembly at the Airbus production site in Toulouse. Many in a RIAT crowd are ardent military aircraft fans - that is what RIAT is best known for - but an enormous number are simply fans of anything that flies. For them the almost comic Beluga was sheer joy, not only because of its size and grinning whale livery but because of the way pilot Anthony Flynn was able to flick it around the sky. A fun interlude amongst the military heavyweights that everyone, including the military aircraft fans, could enjoy.

On both of the weekend days an F-35B from the RAF's 617 Squadron made a couple of passes: the first a straight-through pass, the second a more gentle pass with a generous pause for a trademark hover at crowd centre.

In the static park, in addition to 'Nightwatch', a major star was the Romanian Air Force's Antonov An-30, a reconnaissance aircraft, known by it's NATO reporting name of 'Clank', accompanied by one of the most enthusiastic ground crews at the show, proud to detail the fly-by-mechanical-wire nature of the aircraft.

Also notable, the Estonian Air Force were back at RIAT's static display, this time with the M28 Skytruck, the replacement for the Antonov An-2: the Lithuanian Air Force brought their AS365 Dauphin for the first time as well as their LET-410 transport aircraft and there was a Kawasaki C-2 aircraft from the Japan Air Self Defense Force - not seen at RIAT since 2018. There were plenty of classic static items presented by the private sector, too, including the Douglas A-4N Skyhawk from Top Aces; Hawker Hunter T72 from Hawker Hunter Aviation and a Canadair CL-13B Sabre from Mistral Warbirds. (... continued below the table)

Prize Winners at RIAT 2022

The South Korean 'Black Eagles' won the prize for 'Best Overall Flying Demonstration (King Hussein Memorial Sword)' and the FRIAT 'As The Crow Flies' award.

The Steedman Display Sword for the best demonstration by a UK participant was won by the RAF Chinook Display Team led by Flight Lieutenant Matthew 'Schmitty' Smyth.

The Belgian Air Force F-16 Solo Display won the FRIAT 'Best Livery' Trophy' for their General Dynamics F-16AM Fighting Falcon, "Dream Viper".

The Irish Air Corps Pilatus PC-12 was the overall winner of the Concours d'Elegance (static aircraft) Best Prepared and Presented Aircraft

The RJAF C-130H won the runner-up prize in the Concours d'Elegance (static aircraft) Best Prepared and Presented Aircraft

George Haye's Supermarine Spitfire Mk16 LFE won the Concours d'Elegance (static aircraft) Best Prepared and Presented Civilian Aircraft.

Austrian Air Force QRA demo won the RAFCTE Trophy for the 'Best Flying Demonstration by an Overseas Participant'

Sir Douglas Bader Trophy for the Best Solo Display was won by Major Jonathan Canestrini, Major Davide Sottotetti and Chief Master Sergeant Giuseppe Civica, flying the Italian Air Force Leonardo C-27J Spartan

The Paul Bowen Trophy for the Best Solo Jet Demonstration was won by Captain David Szentendrei, flying the SAAB JAS-39C Gripen from the Hungarian Air Force.

But the most poignant static display was for an aircraft that wasn't there at all.

Colonel Oleksandr Oksanchenko, or the 'Grey Wolf', flew the Ukrainian Air Force's Su-27P Flanker at two consecutive RIATs, winning the FRIAT 'As The Crow Flies' trophy for the best overall flying demonstration in 2017 and returning for a second stunning display in 2018. He then retired from active duty but volunteered to return when Ukraine was invaded on 24th February 2022. He was killed in action near Kyiv on the very next day. On 1st March, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posthumously awarded him the title “Hero of Ukraine”.

Rather than an aircraft, the display comprised three chocks placed where the wheels of the Flanker might otherwise have been, together with a Ukrainian flag and a descriptive plaque.

As well as the flying and static displays, the show offers plenty on the ground both for education and for entertainment. Foremost amongst the former is the Techno Zone, now a regular feature at RIAT, where STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) transition from theory to reality through hands-on, interactive experiences and exciting exhibits - and where visitors have a chance to meet their STEM heroes. Surely, many STEM careers have their beginnings in such an environment.

For the sake of balance, it has to be said that, although outnumbered by huge achievements, there were also a few hitches at RIAT 2022. Yes, there was a major problem with phone and wi-fi reception and a shortage of drinking water some of the time but, by and large, for such a major event and following a three year enforced absence, the show ran as smoothly as ever and the static and flying line-up were phenomenal.

Huge credit to the new team, which includes the new Head of Air Operations, Peter Reoch, of RAF Cosford Air Show fame, in charge of both the flying and static displays. This new RIAT team got off to a great start and I, for one, don't doubt that they will do it again in 2023. News of that show, to be held on July 14 - 16, will be on the RIAT web site and British Airshows, as it breaks.

International Support for the 2020 Virtual Air Tattoo

Virtual Air Tattoo

Virtual Air Tattoo logo

Air arms representing more than 20 countries from around the globe took part in a special event organised by the team behind the Royal International Air Tattoo and supported by the Royal Air Force.

The Virtual Air Tattoo was a free-to-view, live-streamed event that took place from 11am to 3pm on Saturday July 18 and Sunday July 19, the same weekend the actual airshow was due to be staged.

Hosted by Air Tattoo commentators and aviation experts Ben Dunnell and Mark Manwaring and featuring special welcome messages from Sir David Jason and Carol Vorderman, the Virtual Air Tattoo gave viewers a flavour of the real event planned for 2020 with dramatic virtual flying displays, pilot interviews, special guests and unique aircraft footage.

Highlights included:

  • Displays created by Virtual Airshows, performed by Europe’s top flight simulator pilots including the Virtual Red Arrows and Swiss, French and Italian teams.
  • Footage from some of the most exciting Air Tattoo participants, including 2019 displays by the MiG-21 LanceR & EAV-8 Harrier.
  • Live interviews with the Red Arrows as well as pilots from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and RAF Typhoon Display Team.
  • Unique behind-the-scenes footage of military aviation including a flight on a recent Royal Air Force air-to-air refuelling mission.
  • Messages, interviews and special aircraft tours courtesy of participating international aircrew.

And with tickets for the 2021 50th anniversary airshow going on sale over the same weekend, the Virtual Air Tattoo took a look back at some of the event’s aviation highlights since the live Air Tattoo was first staged in 1971.

Among the nations taking part in the Virtual Air Tattoo were Austria, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, the US and UK – with Sri Lanka and Singapore being represented for the first time ever – albeit virtually. Video support for the Virtual Air Tattoo also came from aerospace industry, including BAE Systems Leonardo, Airbus Northrop Grumman, MBDA and Rolls-Royce, with additional help from Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other long-term sponsors.

Whilst the Air Tattoo delivered the main broadcast, the RAF hosted two additional channels, one providing extended footage of RAF content featured in the Virtual Air Tattoo and the other, broadcast live on Twitch, hosted by the RAF’s Video Gaming and Esports Association, who staged a number of socially-distanced esport competitions.

Working with PlanesTV, the programme was hosted from a live studio and, as well as featuring special guests, the show invited viewers’ questions via social media, making the Virtual Air Tattoo a truly interactive experience.

Before the event was broadcast, Air Tattoo Chief Executive Paul Atherton said:

“The Royal Air Force has been a great partner for the virtual Air Tattoo as they are for the Royal International Air Tattoo each year. Their support in providing behind-the-scenes access to, and footage of, its aircraft, facilities and people has been pivotal and we now look forward to sharing this content with our online visitors. We are confident that this, coupled with the incredible material created by our international friends and the virtual world of air displays will wow our audiences.”

Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, said:

“I am delighted the Royal Air Force has joined forces with RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises to deliver a trailblazing Virtual Air Tattoo. We look forward to exhilarating displays from our allies around the world, getting behind the scenes with the RAF and our industry partners as we showcase our talent, and sharing special moments from previous Air Tattoos as we approach the airshow’s 50th anniversary next year.”

RIAT RAF Fairford 2019

July 19th - 21st
BOAC Jumbo with Red Arrows

The BOAC-liveried BA 747 escorted by the Red Arrows. One of the popular flypasts

Prize Winners

Every year, the show awards prizes to the displays that have excelled. It is often hard to compare one excellent performance with another and many will have their own, different, favourites. Nevertheless, prize winners in 2019 were chosen at the after-show party on Sunday.



The Paul Bowen Trophy for the best solo jet display (named in honour of the late Paul Bowen, co-founder of the Air Tattoo) was won by Lt Col Yurii Bulavka, pilot of the Sukhoi Su-27P1M from the 831st Guards Tactical Aviation Brigade of the Ukrainian Air Force. "I will say only one thing", commented Bulavka. "Thank you for your attention, wonderful Air Tattoo. See you next time!"

Frecce Tricolori

Frecce Tricolori

The Italian Air Force's Frecce Tricolori aerobatic team of 10 Aermacchi AT-339A jet trainers, regulars at the Air Tattoo, won the RAFCTE Trophy, awarded to the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant. Team leader Maj Stefano Vit said, "It is really a great honour for me and for all the team, because it's a special trophy. The Air Tattoo is the biggest airshow in Europe, and winning this trophy is a big reward. It's nice to leave an occasion like this."

Following a triumphant event, including flypasts with the British Overseas Airways Corporation-schemed Boeing 747-436 of British Airways as part of the BA100 events and the French Air Force's Patrouille de France team as a salute to the 50th anniversary of Concorde's first flight, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, won the Steedman Display Sword for best display by a UK participant. Team manager Sqn Ldr Doug Smith commented, "This is absolutely fantastic. We adore coming to RIAT every year - it's a tremendously well-run airshow - and to come away with the trophy for best display from the UK is stunning. To do the flypasts with the 747 in BOAC livery and the 'double Concorde' formation was really, really good."

A double winner was Capt Arto Ukskoski, who flew the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet from Fighter Squadron 11 of the Finnish Air Force. He took home the Sir Douglas Bader Trophy for best individual flying demonstration and the 'As The Crow Flies' Trophy for best display as judged by the enthusiast members of Friends of RIAT. "I am quite surprised", said Ukskoski, "because there are so many good aircraft and so many good pilots. It's amazing, especially for the Finnish Air Force because we don't do so many airshows internationally every year."

One of the most regular performers at recent Air Tattoos, Swedish Air Force Saab JAS 39C Gripen pilot Maj Peter Fallén from F 7 wing of the Swedish Air Force, received the King Hussein Memorial Sword for best overall flying demonstration. An emotional Fallén said, "This means so much to me. I'm almost in tears now, because RIAT has been a big part of my career as a display pilot. I've been flying here for six years, and it's been the main event every year. I'm so grateful."

The RIAT Chief Executive Trophy, presented by outgoing Air Tattoo CEO Andy Armstrong, went to the Spanish Navy's EAV-8B Harrier II+ duo. Mr Armstrong referred particularly to the initiative shown by the squadron's commanding officer following a brake fire suffered by one of the two aircraft on arrival, which led to repairs being affected and participation in the weekend displays.

Finally, and possibly most controversially in a crowded field with so many excellent designs, the trophy for best livery was presented to the Eurofighter EF2000 operated by Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 71 'Richthofen' of the German Air Force, stationed at Wittmund.

For an authoritative list of aircraft flying and on static display, see RIAT's list of confirmed aircraft

The organisers of the Royal International Air Tattoo had promised that, as well as featuring the world's most exciting aircraft, the 2019 airshow would turn its spotlight into space. Accordingly, one of the themes for RIAT 2019 was 'Air & Space: inspiring the Next Generation Air Force'. It followed an announcement earlier in 2019 that the Royal Air Force would be taking command and control of the UK's military space operations, reflecting the importance of space in ensuring successful military operations around the world.

Andy Armstrong, Chief Executive of RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises, which organises the event, said beforehand that whilst the past 100 years saw military operations take place in the sky, the next century would see activities increasingly stretching beyond the Earth's atmosphere. To reflect this, activities at the show included rockets, astronauts and space-related entertainment, including a planetarium.

Another theme was a celebration of the 70th anniversary of NATO. On Friday and Saturday 20 operational aircraft from NATO member nations were due to take part in the only official NATO flypast taking place at a UK airshow this summer. See the grey box below for some more detail about what actually came about.

A popular flypast featured the Red Arrows with the special BOAC-liveried Boeing 747 aircraft, painted to mark the centenary of British Airways and its predecessors. The BA Jumbo, painted in its British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) scheme, performed the flypast with the Red Arrows on Saturday only. These special features were part of a huge effort by the team at RIAT and by so many nations to celebrate achievements in air and space. Overall, over 245 aircraft from 39 air arms, representing 25 different nations were at the show. (... text continues below the information boxes)

Flying on Friday

Regrettably, the weather caused the cancellation of most displays on Friday.

The Spanish Navy Harrier displayed to open the show. It was a solo because the weather prevented the anticipated pairs display. The Chinook was able to demonstrate its resilience to conditions and the Boeing E-3A AWACS took off, made an approach and go round to take the Nato 70th anniversary salute as the cloud was too low for a traditional flypast.

The Tutor, Tucano and RAF Typhoon also took off and did single circuits. Although not scheduled for a solo on Friday, there was an almost full display from the British Aerospace A400M which skirted the clouds and disappeared entirely from time to time. At the end of the afternoon, the F-35B made a single slow pass before returning to RAF Marham.

All other intended displays were cancelled, including the Nato flypast (other than the E-3A). A joint Red Arrows and Patrouille de France flypast to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Concorde, was mooted as a possible extra item but was postponed until Saturday.


The show attracted 245 aircraft and around 170,000 visitors

NATO Flypast

Aircraft due to take part in the flypast on Friday and Saturday to celebrate NATO's 70th anniversary were due to be NATO Boeing E-3D AWACS; 3 F-16s fighters from Belgium and Denmark; Eurofighter EF2000, A400M and Tornado strike aircraft from Germany; KC-135R tanker from the French Air Force; 3 USAF F-15 aircraft from RAF Lakenheath and 3 Typhoons from the RAF.

Nato Flypast on Friday & Saturday

Nato Flypast

In practice, the flypast was replaced on Friday by a single E-3A, because of the weather. On Saturday the German Tornado and the Nato E-3A were cancelled. The flypast comprised three RAF Typhoons, four USAF F-15s, a French KC-135R, four F-16s (one each from Norway, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands) and a German Air Force Typhoon.

F35B Demo

Air Vice-Marshal Harv Smyth, Air Officer Commanding No. 1 Group, advised in advance of the show that, all being well, there would be a F35B “role demo” involving fast and slow passes, finishing with a decel to hover and pedal turn, before the aircraft returns to RAF Marham. In practice, there was a single slow pass on Friday and both slow and fast passes on Saturday.

Observation Wheel

A 35 Metre Observation Wheel was located near the Techo Centre offering 3-revolution (10 minute) rides.

Tim Peake at RIAT on Friday

This year, RIAT coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing. In keeping with this year's theme, 'Air & Space: Inspiring The Next Generation Air Force' British astronaut Major Tim Peake made an appearance at the airshow on the Friday.

Tim Peake, who is currently Head of Astronaut Operations at ESA's European Astronaut Centre in Germany, spent six months in space and was the first UK astronaut to visit the International Space Station, launching on a Soyuz rocket in December 2015 and returning to earth six months later, having taken part in a variety of activities, including conducting a spacewalk to repair the station's power supply.

Before his visit he said:

"I've been wanting to attend the Royal International Air Tattoo for some time and this year's 'Space' theme presented the perfect opportunity. I'm really looking forward to it!"

On Friday he was in the Techno Zone® to inspire young visitors as part of the airshow's 'Air & Space' theme. His biggest thrill, though, was riding with Red 1 during a Red Arrows display rehearsal.

Techno Zone

In the Techno Zone® at RIAT 2019 there was a chance to see examples of commercial space rockets being developed in the UK. Visitors could also see an ExoMars rover prototype and talk to the scientists and engineers responsible for operating it. On Friday, Airbus Defence took a photo of the show from their Pleiades satellite from 400 miles above Earth.

After the special arrangements for the RAF centenary year, the show returned in 2019 to the more traditional scale and timetable, with fewer tickets and a shorter 4 hour airshow on Friday to allow for more aircraft arrivals before and after the displays. In practice, the weather forced an even shorter show than intended.

The first flying display announcement was confirmation that the Spanish Navy Harrier will return to the Air Tattoo. Then, a few weeks later, the organisers announced that there would be not one but two Spanish Navy Harriers and that they would both display on all three days of the show. In practice, the weather reduced the display to a single Harrier on Friday, but both displayed over the weekend and the team duly won the RIAT Chief Executive Trophy. The EAV-8B Harrier II Plus from 9 Squadron is based at Rota Naval Base and normally flies from the Spanish Navy's amphibious assault ship, Juan Carlos I. The Harrier can take off and land vertically, fly backwards, sideways and rotate on the spot and always impresses both regular and casual airshow visitors. Spanish Navy Harriers, in the form of the earlier AV-8S and TAV-8S variants, were last seen at the Air Tattoo in 1994. The last Air Tattoo Harrier flying display was in 2010, the final display season for the RAF's own GR.9 model prior to its retirement in March 2011.

The Swiss Air Force participated with a F/A-18C Hornet, a twin-engined, supersonic multi-role combat jet designed to carry out air-to-air missions and attack ground targets (the F/A designation stands for fighter/attack). The aircraft is currently flown by three Swiss squadrons, which operate out of Meiringen and Payerne. They use the F/A-18C for the air policing role as their primary function. A Swiss Hornet first appeared at an Air Tattoo in 1997.

Staying with jet fighters, The Swedish Air Force returned with their Gripen solo display; the Belgian Air Force provided their extremely popular F-16 'Dark Falcon', now with new and very impressive 40th anniversary tail art and one of the stars of last year’s airshow and a Russian-built Sukhoi Su-27 from the Ukrainian Air Force, thrilled again for the third year in a row.

The Soviet-era heavy fighter was initially created in reaction to the United States Air Force’s F-15 Eagle. The Sukhoi design, which was the first Soviet aircraft to be operated using an electronic interface instead of conventional manual flight controls, is an exceptionally agile aircraft that can reach top speeds of 2,500 km/h. Codenamed ‘Flanker’ by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), it first flew in 1977, and was much feared by potential Western opponents during the Cold War. Since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the original Su-27 series has continued to equip the Russian armed forces and serve with the Ukrainian Air Force, which brought its display back to the Air Tattoo in 2019, supported by a second on static display alongside its support transport, the Ukrainian Il-76 ‘Candid’.

Another east-European fighter displaying at the Tattoo was a Romanian Air Force MiG-21 LanceR, last seen displaying at RAF Cottesmore at the 2001 Air Tattoo and on static display in 2005. The MiG 21 made the journey to the UK to join NATO 70th celebrations.

Although most jet demonstration and formation teams are military, the Breitling Jet Team are civilian, in fact the largest civilian aerobatic display team in Europe, comprising mostly former French Air Force fighter pilots. They flew at the Air Tattoo for the first time in five years in their six L-39 Albatros jet trainers.

The Royal Jordanian Falcons are regulars at the Air Tattoo and their display in the team's four Extra 300LX aircraft displayed again in 2019.

The RAF Chinook Display Team will be at 13 public airshows in 2019 and RIAT was one of them. They confirmed in late February that they would be at the Air Tattoo on all three of the show days. In practice, a technical problem prevented a display on Saturday, but there were displays on Friday and Sunday.

The Red Arrows confirmed, before their 2019 schedule was announced, that they would be at RIAT on all three days, after it was announced earlier in the week by the Minister of Defence, in his statement about Tour of the USA and Canada, that the Red Arrows would leave for North America after the Air Tattoo.

Four more RAF teams were at the Tattoo. The RAF Typhoon Display Team demonstrated the multi-role BAE Systems Typhoon FGR.4 in a display that lived up to its promise to showcase the aircraft's amazing performance, flown again by Flt Lt Jim Peterson. RAF training aircraft also performed solo displays: the Shorts Tucano and Grob Tutor display teams. Airshow favourites, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight also flew at the show with the Lancaster (on Sunday), Spitfire and Hurricane. A technical problem with the starter motor prevented the Lancaster displaying on Saturday.

There was an Air Tattoo debut in the form of Hellenic Air Force's 'Daedalus' Demo Team flying a single T-6A Texan II turboprop trainer and another from The Blades.

RIAT RAF Fairford 2018

Spectacular celebration of RAF100


The Rafale Solo Display was part of strong representation from France at RIAT 2018

The 2018 Air Tattoo was selected by the RAF to be the international celebration of the RAF's Centenary and the entire show reflected that anniversary with a commemoration and celebration of a century of service to the UK and its allies. Highlights of the 2018 Air Tattoo were to have included a dramatic flypast on Friday 13th July, featuring around 50 aircraft from the Royal Air Force to launch RAF centenary celebrations. The massed flypast which should have included many of the RAF's operational aircraft, such as the new F-35 Lighting, Typhoons, Tornado GR4s, an A400M Atlas, the Red Arrows, and Puma and Chinook helicopters, accompanied by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Lancaster, Spitfires and Hurricanes flying in formation was expected right up until almost the 14.15 start time. Regrettably, the much-anticipated flypast had to be cancelled, partly because the timing coincided with the worst of the day's weather and partly because similarly poor conditions affected the various assembly and transit areas destined to be used by the participating aircraft.

Although the flypast itself could not go ahead, there had earlier been a Royal Review of aircraft and a parade of the newly presented Queen's Colour in front of HRH The Duke of Kent and HRH Prince Michael of Kent by personnel from the Queen's Colour Squadron.

Other special RAF100 themed set-pieces during the weekend's eight-hour flying displays did go ahead. These included a diamond nine of RAF Typhoons and a special '617 Squadron Tribute' of BBMF Lancaster, Tornado GR4 and the new Lightning jet on both Saturday and Sunday.

As usual for RIAT, there were a large number of national aerobatic teams. As well as the Red Arrows, the Royal Jordanian Falcons; the Swiss PC-7 Team, Patrulla Aguila from Spain and Frecce Tricolori all displayed.

The first flying display to be announced was the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team. The team included RIAT when their schedule was released on 4th December and the booking was confirmed by RIAT on 13th. The theme of the Demo Team for 2018 is the 60th anniversary of NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) and its specially-painted NORAD plane displayed on the first two days, although, because of a technical hitch, Sunday's display was the more traditionally painted reserve.

France provided more international thrills in the form of the Couteau Delta pair and the Rafale Solo Display as well as a French Navy Rafale M.

The F-16 is always a popular display and at RIAT 2018 there were no fewer than six static and four flying: the spectacular SoloTurk, the Belgian 'Dark Falcon' and the Hellenic Air Force's Zeus and one from the Polish Air Force.


The winners of prestigious awards at RIAT 2018 were:

  • Best overall display: BBMF, Trenchard Plus Display
  • Best UK display: The Red Arrows
  • Best Civilian Aircraft: Bronco OV-10
  • Best Individual Flying Demo: F/A-18C Finland
  • Best flying demonstration by an overseas participant: Royal Jordanian Falcons
  • FRIAT award: Couteau Delta
  • Best Livery: Canadian CF-18 'Norad' scheme

F-35 Every Day

The F-35B performed flypasts, alongside other RAF aircraft, on all three days of RIAT.

Sky Guardian flew in

An MQ-9B Sky Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft flew 4,000 miles from its base in North Dakota and arrived at RAF Fairford late afternoon on 11th June, in time to be a static exhibit at RIAT. The aircraft will be known as the Protector RG Mk.1 when it enters RAF service in the early 2020s.


Apollo 15 Astronaut Al Worden, who made the first spacewalk in deep space, was at Air Tattoo 2018.

The Swiss Air Force had two flying displays. As well as the PC-7 Team, flying a nine-ship formation of Swiss-built Pilatus PC-7 Turbotrainers; their team members' normal day-job mount, the F/A-18C Hornet, also flew on the first two days, beginning the display in formation with the national team aircraft.

In 2017 the Finnish Defence Forces had an NH90 on static display. For 2018 Finland did even better with a Finnish Army NH90 TTH helicopter in the flying display as well as one on static in the type's 10th anniversary in Finnish Army service, whilst the Finnish Air Force demonstrated an F-18C.

The Ukrainian Su-27 and both the Swedish and Czech JAS-39 Gripen were also back for 2018.

Going back to the formative years of the RAF, seven of the ten Great War Display Team re-enacted the exploits of the First World War's pioneering military aviators on both weekend days, technical problems holding back the other three and the weather preventing any display on Friday.

Tragically, there was a fatal accident involving the Romanian MiG-21 at an airshow in Romania so, understandably, Romanian participation in RIAT 2018 was cancelled.

National aerobatic teams
Red Arrows (Fri at 11.20 then part of flypast at 14.17; Sat 12.05; Sun 16.35)
Frecce Tricolori (Italian National Team)
Royal Jordanian Falcons (4 x Extra 300LX) (Cancelled Friday)
PC-7 Team (Swiss National Team)
Patrulla Aguila (Spanish National Team)
Fighters / Attack
Eurofighter Typhoon (RAF)
Eurofighter Typhoon (Italian Air Force)
JAS-39C 'Gripen' (Swedish Air Force)
JAS-39 'Gripen' (Czech Air Force)
Aero L-159 Alca (Czech Air Force) (cancelled)
CF-18 Canadian Air ForceCF-18 (RCAF)
F-16 (Belgian Air Force) (cancelled)
F16C Demo Team 'Zeus' (Hellenic Air Force) (cancelled Friday)
F-16C Demo Team 'Soloturk' (Turkish Air Force)
F-16C (Polish Air Force)
F/A-18C Hornet (Swiss Air Force)
Rafale M pair (tactical demo)(French Navy)
F-18C (Finnish Air Force)
MiG-21MiG-21 LanceR (Romanian Air Force) CANCELLED
Su-27 (Ukrainian Air Force)
Couteau Delta Tactical DemoCouteau Delta Tactical Display (French Air Force)
RafaleRafale Solo Display (French Air Force)
Lancaster, Spitfire (x4 Friday only), Hurricane (x2 all days), Dakota. (BBMF reduced to traditional trio on Friday)
F-35A / P-51D Mustang Heritage Flight (USAF & civilian)
Great War Display Team (cancelled Friday)
Vampires FB.52 & T.55 (NAFHS)
Grob Tutor (RAF) (Sat 14th only)
Pilatus PC-9M ‘Swift’ (Slovenian Air Force)
T-346A / M346 Jet Trainer (Italian Air Force)
Chinook (RAF)
NH90 TTH (Finnish Army)
Airbus A400M Tactical Transport (Airbus)
Alenia C-27J Spartan Tactical Transport (Italian Air Force)
ATL2Dassault ATL2 (AKA Atlantique 2) (French Navy) CANCELLED. Left RIAT for France 11.07.18 for operational reasons.
RAF Falcons (all 3 days)
Additionally there was a substantial static display including the following
A330 Voyager KC.2/3 (RAF)
A400M Atlas C.1 x2 (RAF)
A400M (Luftwaffe)
AH-64D Apache (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
Airbus Helicopters H125 (QinetiQ)
Alpha Jet E (x2) (French Air Force) (cancelled)
Antonov An-2 (Estonian Air Force)
Avro Anson
Avro Tutor
Auster Mk 5 (Private owner)
Avenger T.1 (Royal Navy) (cancelled)
B-1B ‘Lancer’
B-52H ‘Stratofortress’
Bo105 (Flying Bulls) (cancelled)
BAE Systems 146 VIP transport (RAF)
Bristol Sycamore (Flying Bulls)
Bristow Helicopters' AW189
Britten Norman Defender 4000 (AAC)
Broussard (utility)
Bulldog T1 (Private Owner)
Cessna 152 (RAF Halton Aeroplane Club)
Chipmunk (x2)
Chipmunk (a third) (cancelled)
C-17A Globemaster (RAF)
C-17 Globemaster (NATO)
C-17 (USAF)
CC-177 Globemaster (Canadian Air Force)
C-27J Spartan (Italian Air Force)
C-27J (Lithuanian)
C-27J (Romanian) (cancelled)
C-27J Spartan (Slovakian Air Force)
C-130 Hercules (Pakistan Air Force)
CC-130 Hercules (Canadian Air Force)
C-130E Hercules (Polish Air Force)
C-130H (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
C-130H (Jordanian Air Force)
C-130J Hercules (Royal Air Force of Oman)
C-130J (The Royal Danish Air Force)
C-130J Hercules C.4/5 (RAF)
C-130K Hercules (Austrian Air Force)
C-160 Transall (Luftwaffe)
CH-146 Griffon (Royal Canadian Air Force)
CH-47D Chinook (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
CN235 (Irish Air Corps) CANCELLED
CP-140 Aurora (Royal Canadian Air Force) CANCELLED
Diamond DA20 (civilian)
Do-228 (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (RAF)
E-6B Mercury (US Navy)
E-7A Wedgetail (Royal Australian Air Force)
EC-135 (German Navy)
EF2000 (Luftwaffe)
Embraer KC-390 tanker
Embraer Emb-121A 'Xingu' (French Navy)
Eurofighter Typhoon (Italian Air force)
EV-97 Microlight (Halton Microlight Club)
F-16AM (Belgian Air Component)
F-16 AM/BM x2 (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
F-16 (Royal Norwegian Air Force)
F-16 x2 (Royal Danish Air Force)
Gnat T.1 (civilian)
Grob 120TP (QinetiQ)
Grob Prefect (RAF)
Grob Tutor x 2 (RAF)
Grob Viking TX.1 x 2 (RAF)
Gulfstream 450
Gulfstream 550
Gulfstream 650
Hawk T.1 (Royal Navy)
Hawk T.2 (RAF)
Hawker Fury
Hawker Hunter Mk 58 (Hawker Hunter Aviation)
H135 Juno HT.1 (RAF)
H145 Jupiter HT.1 (RAF)
Hawk T.1/1A (RAF)
HC-130P/N (USAF)
HH-101 helicopter (Italian Air Force)
HH-139 helicopter (Italian Air Force)
Ikarus C42 x2 (civilian)
IL-76 Candid (Ukrainian Air Force)
Jet Provost T3 (Classic Jet Preservation Group)
Jet Provost T3A (Newcastle Jet Provost Group)
Jet Provost Mk 5 XW324 (J Bell)
JAS-39D 'Gripen' (Swedish Air Force)
Kawasaki C-2 (Japanese Air Self-Defence Force)
KC-10 Extender (USAF)
King Air 350 (RAF)
Leonardo M-346 Master
L410UVP (Slovenian Air Force)
Merlin HC.3 (Royal Navy)
Merlin HM.2 (Royal Navy)
Meteor (Martin-Baker)
Miles Magister (Private Owner)
MQ-9B Sky Guardian
NH90 (Finnish Army)
PA-28 Cherokee (Private)
PA-28 Cherokee (RAF Flying Clubs' Association)
Pembroke C Mk.1
Phenom 100 (RAF)
Pilatus PC-9M «Swift’ (Slovenian Air Force)
Puma (x2) (French Army Air Corps) (cancelled)
P-8A Poseidon (US Navy)
Puma (RAF)
RC-135W (RAF)
Rockwell OV-10B Bronco (civilian)
Royal Aircraft Factory Be-2
RUAG Do-228
S6 Coyote (self-build)
Sea King ASaC.7 (Royal Navy)
SC-7 Skyvan
Sentinel R.1 (RAF)
Su-22 Fitter (Polish Air Force)
Su-27UB 'Flanker' (Ukrainian Air Force)
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc
TB-20 Trinidad
Tecnam P2008 (x2) (RAF Flying Club)
Tecnam Sierra (RAF Halton Aeroplane Club)
Tecnam P2002 (civilian)
Tornado ECR/IDS (x2) (Luftwaffe)
Tornado (Italian Air Force)
Tornado GR.4 x 2 (RAF)
Tucano T.1 x 2 (RAF)
Typhoon FGR.4/T.3 x2 (RAF)
Westland Gazelle AH.1 (AAC)
Westland Whirlwind
Wildcat (Army Air Corps) (cancelled)
Wildcat HMA.2 (Royal Navy)

Air Tattoo's Beginning

The Air Tattoo's links with the US Air Force stretch back to 1972 when the Americans permitted the airshow to be staged at RAF Greenham Common, near Newbury. When the Air Tattoo had to find a new home in the 1980s, the US Air Force offered RAF Fairford and the first Air Tattoo was staged in the Cotswolds in 1985.

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.

RIAT RAF Fairford 2017

Highlights spanning the ages


Flypast by a Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirit Stealth Bomber was an unlisted late addition on Sunday

The operational theme of the 2017 Air Tattoo was a celebration of 21st Century Partnerships throughout the defence and aviation community but the main theme was the 70th anniversary of the US Air Force (USAF70). The show's highlights spanned those 70 years.

The Thompson Formation of Lancaster, Hurricane and 3 Spitfires, whose individual ages almost match that of the USAF, displayed on all three days and provided one of the few opportunities to see this BBMF combination anywhere in the UK. The formation is named after Wg Cdr Peter Thompson who was Station Commander at Biggin Hill and was primarily responsible for what we now know as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. This was not the first outing for the Lancaster after its long sojourn whilst undergoing deep maintenance and repaint, but it will have been a welcome a first sight for many of the rejuvenated 'Leader' ( ex- 'Thumper'). It will have been an emotional return for many, too, in a formation that also included two of the original BBMF aircraft. The display provided a generous series of flypasts by the quintet, followed by formation and tailchase displays by the fighters before the Lancaster performed her solo.

Towards the more modern end of the 70 years, an unlisted flypast by a Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirit Stealth Bomber direct from the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri accentuated the USAF anniversary theme. The B-2A was flanked by a pair of F-15s and flew fairly level from east to west, turned and flew back along the same path but this time making a topside pass, showing another aspect of this rarely-seen bomber. Only 21 B2s were ever built and following an accident that destroyed one of them only 20 remain. At a reported cost of $2billion each, including development, it is one of the costliest as well as scarcest aircraft. Happily, the whole of the huge cost of the trip from the USA to the Tattoo did not have to be met by the show as the journey was arranged as part of a transatlantic 'Global Power' training exercise.

We do have one little gripe. The arrival of the B2 was well known to anyone who uses social media. Yet the commentators treated it as a 'surprise' saying only that visitors may wish to look up at the appointed time. Anticipation is part of the excitement and the expected arrival of the B2 generated a great deal of buzz around the show. What a shame that anyone not linked to social media, or out of tune with the general show chatter, was unable to enjoy the anticipation of one of the undoubted highlights of the Tattoo. Please, if you know what's coming, just tell everyone. OK, gripe over.

BBMF Thompson Formation

BBMF Thompson Formation

Couteau Delta

Couteau Delta

Thunderbirds and Red Arrows

Thunderbirds and Red Arrows

Heritage Flight

Heritage Flight


Thunderbirds 5 and 6

As well as the B-2A with its brace of F-15s, and a Red Arrows / Thunderbirds combo, a third flypast to impress was from United States Air Force Europe. The special 70th Anniversary flypast, on all three days, featured a C-130J from 37th Airlift Squadron based at Ramstein, Germany; a KC-135R air-to-air refuelling tanker from 351st Air Refuelling Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, which flew through with refuelling probe extended ; an F-15C combat aircraft operated by the 493rd Fighter Squadron from RAF Lakenheath; two F-15E combat aircraft and two F-16C, flown by the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem, Germany.

In advance of the show, and before the B-2A or Thompson formation became the focus, the most promoted display was by the USAF Thunderbirds. 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 made a rare trip across the Atlantic to display on all three days - their only UK appearance in 2017 and their first at RIAT since 2007. On Friday the Thunderbirds also flew in Paris to mark Bastille Day and the opportunity was taken on their return to form up with the Red Arrows for a joint pass over RIAT: for many, that flypast was a greater highlight than the Thunderbirds' actual displays.

On Friday, the four formation Thunderbirds flew but Thunderbird 6, one of the two soloists, had a technical fault that prevented him flying with the others. The loss of Thunderbird 6, who joins Thunderbird 5 for pairs formations, reduced the impact of the opposition and synchronised manoeuvres somewhat. On both weekend days the full six aircraft took part. The display comprised a number of formations, mostly four-ship variations on a diamond, interspersed with basic solo aerobatics and a few pairs synchronised and opposition passes. There were some nice mirror and echelon passes but it would be difficult for any team to match up to the rather ebullient 'cheerleader' build-up by their commentator. They were, nevertheless, presented with RAFCTE Chief Executive Andy Armstrong's special 'RIAT CEO Award' for an outstanding contribution to the show.

Other national teams at RIAT were the Red Arrows; the Midnight Hawks from Finland, the Royal Jordanian Falcons and the Patrouille Suisse, the aerobatic team of the Swiss Air Force, with their six F-5E Tiger IIs. The Midnight Hawks have to be applauded for displaying in close formation in some of the worst of the weather and the Patrouille Swiss were every bit as masterly as the Thunderbirds: without the razzmatazz. Overall, though, we can be proud of the Red Arrows. The display may not have the novelty of the others for regular airshow goers but the variety, competence and excitement of the formation and dynamic elements of the display were undoubtedly supreme amongst the national aerobatic teams. At the end of Sunday's display, Mike Ling, Red Ten, confirmed that it would be his last commentary at RIAT as he will be handing over the reigns at the end of the 2017 season after a record spell as the Manager of the Red Arrows. We wish Lingy good luck in whatever the RAF have lined up for him next.

Whilst the highlights of the show were the various formation passes and the highest profile was reserved for the national aerobatic teams, it was the jets that took most of the plaudits.

A very late addition to the Tattoo was one of the most famous of all combat jets, the Sukhoi Su-27P1M, which has the NATO codename 'Flanker'. The Ukrainian Air Force sent one each for the flying and the static displays. The energetic flying display, on all three days of RIAT, impressed with its almost constant afterburner. The Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo certainly were, awarding the Su-27 display pilot Col Oleksander Oksanchenko the 'As The Crow Flies' trophy for the best overall flying demonstration.

The Su-27, a heavy air superiority fighter, was designed during the Cold War as a Soviet counter to potential Western opponents such as the US Air Force's F-15 Eagle. It first flew in 1977 and in the course of its development phase one of the prototypes set several time-to-altitude records. Service entry began during 1985. It appeared at Western air displays starting at Paris in 1989 and its first western airshow was at RIAT in 1996. The last time it was a flying display at RIAT was in 1999, although it was on the static park in 2011.


Ukrainian SU-27

In the post-Soviet era, the original Su-27 series has continued to equip the Russian armed forces and carried on serving with the Ukrainian Air Force as well as other former Soviet states and several export customers. The design has continued to be developed for both the Russian and overseas markets, some of the latest derivatives incorporating thrust vectoring for even greater agility.

The Ukrainian Su-27s at RIAT 2017 are from the 831st Tactical Aviation Brigade, based at Myrhorod in central Ukraine. Also in the static park was the support aircraft for the 'Flankers', an Ilyushin Il-76 four-jet transport.

The UK's own Typhoon pilot Flt Lt Ryan Lawton was a winner too, being awarded the Steedman Display Sword for the best flying demonstration by a UK participant but the King Hussein Memorial Sword for the best overall flying demonstration went to Capitaine Jean-Guillaume 'Marty' Martinez, the French Air Force Dassault Rafale C solo display pilot. The judges called his "a faultless, flowing and dynamic flying display". Few would dispute that.

Lockheed Martin's F-22A Raptor flew as part of the USAF70 theme. The Raptor entered service with the USAF in December 2005 but did not perform its first UK flying demo until 2010. For the second year running its pilot, Maj Dan 'Rock' Dickinson, won an award at RIAT. This year he won the Paul Bowen Trophy for the best jet demonstration. The judges said the Raptor's performance was a "consistently accurate, powerful and superbly executed solo jet demonstration".

Flying Displays (tap / hover over icon for more detail)
National aerobatic teams
USAF Thunderbirds (US Air Combat Command)
Patrouille Suisse (Swiss Air Force)
Midnight Hawks (4 x BAe Hawks) (Finnish Air Force)
Red Arrows (All days) (RAF)
Royal Jordanian Falcons
Fighters / Attack
Typhoon FGR.4 (RAF)
EF-18AM Hornet (Spanish Air Force)
Sukhoi Su-27 'Flanker' (Ukrainian Air Force) (Sat & Sun)
F-16AM (Belgian Air Force)
F-16 Soloturk
F-22 Raptor (USAF)
Couteau Delta Tactical Demo Couteau Delta: Mirage 2000D pair (French Air Force)
Rafale Solo (French Air Force)
Saab JAS-39 Gripen (Czech Air Force)
Saab JAS-39 Gripen (Swedish Air Force)
Tornado A-200 (Italian Air Force)
Aero L-159 Alca x2 (Czech Air Force)
WAH-64D Apache (AHDT)
RAF Chinook
Sea King Westland Sea King Mk48 (Belgian Air Force SAR demo)
BBMF Lancaster (BBMF)
x4BBMF Spitfire x4
P-51D Mustang 'Tall in the Saddle' (Hangar 11)
P-51D Mustang (Comanche Fighters). Due to fly with F-22. Replaced by 'Berlin Express' before the latter was damaged. Frenesi reinstated but didn't fly Friday.
P-51B Mustang 'Berlin Express' flying with F-22 CANCELLED (damaged at Duxford)
P-40 Kittyhawk 'Lulu Belle' (Hangar 11) CANCELLED (sold)
Sally B (Sat & Sun)
Airbus A400M (displayed by Airbus)
C-27J Spartan (Italian Air Force)
CV-22B Osprey (US Air Force)
M-346 Master (Italian Air Force)
Pilatus PC-9M (Slovenian Air Force)
Saab J105Öe (Austrian Air Force)
USAF 70th Anniversary Flypast (all three days)
C-130J-30 Hercules
KC-135R Tanker
F-15C Eagle
F-15E Strike Eagle x2
F-16C Fighting Falcon x2
Additionally the following were on static display
U-2 'Dragon Lady' (Sat & Sun)
B1-B Lancer Heavy Bomber (USAF)
B-52 Stratofortress Heavy Bomber (USAF)
Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patroller (German Navy) CANCELLED
A-4N Skyhawk (Discovery Air Defence, Wittmund, Germany) (Sat & Sun) CANCELLED
A109E Power (QinetiQ)
A400M (German Air Force)
Alpha Jet x2 (French Air Force)
Alpha Jet (QinetiQ)
Airbus EC-135 P2+ training helicopter (German Navy)
Apache WAH-64D (Army Air Corps)
Beaver AL.1 (AAC Historic Aircraft Flight)
Scout AH Mk 1 (AAC Historic Aircraft Flight)
Sukhoi Su-27 ' Flanker' (Ukrainian Air Force)
Ilyushin Il-76 Transport (Supporting Su-27)
Westland Sea Lynx utility helicopter (German Navy)
Wildcat AH.1 (Army Air Corps)
Wildcat HMA.2 (Royal Navy)
Sea King Mk 41 (German Navy)
F-4E Phantom (Hellenic Air Force)
C-130 (Israeli Air Force)
C-130H Hercules (Belgian Air Force)
C-130H (Royal Jordanian Air Force)
C-130H-30 (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
C-130E Hercules (Pakistan Air Force)
C-130J-30 Hercules (Qatar Emiri Air Force)
Defender 4000 (Army Air Corps)
Do-228 (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
F-16AM (Belgian Air Force)
EC-1135P (Irish Air Corps)
H135 Juno HT.1 (RAF)
H145 Jupiter (RAF)
KDC-10 Tanker (Royal Netherlands Air Force) CANCELLED
PC-9M (Irish Air Corps)
PC-9M (Slovenian Air Force)
Puma HC.2 (RAF)
RJ70/100 (QinetiQ)
Aero L-159 Alca (Czech Air Force)
Eurofighter EF2000/T x2 (German Air Force)
Tornado PA2000 (German Air Force)
Transall C-160D (German Air Force)
Tucano T.1 (RAF)
Saab J105Öe (Austrian Air Force)
NHIndustries NH90 TTH (Finnish Army)
Let 410 (Slovenian Air Force)
CL-604 (Royal Danish Air Force)
Viking TX.1 (RAF)
Vigilant T.1 (RAF)
Voyager KC2/3 (Royal Air Force)
C-17A (US Air Force)
CV-22B Osprey (US Air Force)
MC-130J Commando II (US Air Force)
F-15C Eagle x2 (USAF Europe)
F-15E Strike Eagle (USAF Europe)
F-16C (US Air Force)
F-16AM/BM x2 (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
HH-60G Pave Hawk (USAF Europe)
P-8A Poseidon (US Navy)
KC-767J (Japan Air Self Defence Force)
KC-135R (USAF Europe)
Bulldog T1
BN-2T Defender
Extra E-400
Bronco OV-10 and Skyvan (Bronco Demo Team)
Jet Provost JP.5 (Jet Aerobatics)
Saab JAS-39D Gripen (Swedish Air Force)
Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen (Hungarian Air Force)
C-27J Spartan Transport (Lithuanian Air Force) CANCELLED
Antonov AN-28B1R Maritime Surveillance (Polish Navy)
A400M Atlas C.1 (RAF)
C-17A Globemaster lll (RAF) CANCELLED
C-21A (USAF Europe)
Tornado GR4 (RAF)
Typhoon FGR.4 x2 (RAF)
Hawk T.1 (Royal Navy)
Hawk T.1A (RAF)
Hawk T.2 (RAF)
King Air 200/350 (RAF)
King Air / Avenger T.1 (Royal Navy)
Merlin HC3/3A (Royal Navy)
Merlin HM.2 (Royal Navy)
Sea King ASaC.7 (Royal Navy)
Tutor (RAF)
Squirrel HT.1 (RAF)
Griffin HT.1 (RAF)
E-7A Wedgetail (Royal Australian Air Force)
CC-177 Globemaster (Royal Canadian Air Force)
CH-147F Chinook (Royal Canadian Air Force)
Beech 18S (Carlo Ferrari)
BN-2T Islander (Britten Norman)
C42a x2 (AirBourne Aviation)
CM170 Magister
DA-42 Twin Star (Airways Aviation)
DA-42 Twin Star (Bruno Stoker)
DA-40 Diamond Star (Bruno Stoker)
DH-9 Bomber (Aero Vintage)
EV-97 Eurostar SL (RAF Halton)
EV-97 Team Eurostar (RAF Halton)
G-550 (Gulfstream)
Gladiator Mk 1 (Shuttleworth Collection)
Global 6000 (Bombardier)
Grand Caravan EX (Textron)
Grob 120TP
P2002-JF Sierra (RAF Halton)
P2008JC x2 (RAFFCA)
Phenom 100
Piper Cub (Andrew Blackford) CANCELLED
Provost T.1 (Shuttleworth Collection)
RANS S6 Coyote
Scorpion (Textron)
Strikemaster (NWMAS)
TB20 Trinidad (Bruno Stoker)

As if the emphasise the skills of the pilots, the Raptor also teamed up for a 'heritage flight' with a Mustang. Originally it was to be P-51D 'Frenesi' until this was changed to P-51B Mustang 'Berlin Express'. However, when 'Berlin Express' was damaged at Duxford on 8th July, Frenesi was reinstated. It, too, was unable to fly on Friday for technical reasons so there was no heritage flight on that day and on Saturday the cloud base was too low for the Raptor. The Heritage Flight did display on Sunday when aircraft of such diverse ages, design and capability were able to maintain harmony, not just for a single pass, but for an enduring display.

Other jet winners were the Czech Air Force Saab JAS 39C Gripen whose pilot, Capt. Ivo Kardoš, was awarded the RAFCTE Trophy for the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant, displaying what the judges said was a "consistently well flown and accurate fast jet demonstration" and the Italian Air Force Panavia A-200A Tornado, which was awarded the prize for best livery, voted for by FRIAT members.

Unusually there were no prizes this year for two of the most popular jets on the airshow circuit: the Belgian and Turkish F-16s. The Belgian Air Component's F-16 Fighting Falcons are among the oldest still in service, but thanks to major upgrades they remain very capable fighters. Belgium's Air Component operates 54 single seat F-16AMs and twin seat F-16Ms. Their F-16AM was flown in typically flamboyant style by Cdt Tom 'Gizmo' De Moortel, in his third and final display season.

As well as the award-winning Czech example, there was a second Saab Gripen fighter from the Swedish Air Force, which displayed a solo Saab JAS-39C Gripen, their primary fighter. The Swedish Air Force is the largest operator of the Gripen; a relatively small, lightweight machine by modern standards which is able to operate from shorter runways than many otherwise similar fighters.

The jets were not the only aircraft to impress. The Czech Air Force were one of only a few displays to use pyrotechnics when they displayed their pair of L-159 ALCAs and the Italians had three varied items for the flying display. As well as their Tornado, their contribution included an M-346 Master jet trainer and the amazingly manoeuvrable Leonardo C-27J Spartan military transport. Another Military transport aircraft, the Airbus A400M, was displayed not by the RAF but by Airbus itself. The A400M, known as the 'Atlas' in RAF service, impressed with its short take-off and landing, steep climb and 120 degree wingover as well as its size-defying extreme manoeuvrability.

The strength of rotary action was in quality rather than quantity. The UK Apache was displayed by the Army Air Corps: their usual end-of-show flaming finale presenting a grand photo-moment following their tactical demo and the RAF's Chinook team were back with their show-stopping display of strength with agility, accompanied by a commentary that appeared to borrow some of the ebullience of the USA commentators. The Belgian Sea King featured in a search and rescue demonstration. Much missed in the UK, this will also be one of the last occasions on which such a display will be seen at a British event as the Sea King is being phased out by other nations, too.

Possibly the most impressive of the rotary action was the unique CV-22B Osprey from the USAF. The live demonstration of its tiltrotor system that gives it the ability to take off like a helicopter and fly like a conventional fixed-wing aircraft illustrated amply the commentary which explained how this is put to use in emergency transport and evacuation situations.

For a show with so many aircraft, there were relatively few cancellations. One disappointment was the non-appearance of an A-4N Skyhawk from Discovery Air Defence, based at Wittmund. This would have been the first A-4 to visit Air Tattoo since 1977 but unfortunately it was cancelled at the last minute.

Away from the aircraft there was plenty to entertain everyone. One of the most popular was the Techno Zone, where companies displayed, and visitors played with, all nature of gizmos and gadgets. In the Vintage Village visitors were able to enjoy a sequence of vintage entertainment, mostly song and dance of the wartime era and take tea, but a huge proportion was little more than a vintage market in a marquee. The Autodrome was a promotion for a limited range of motor prestige vehicles plus the 'wall of death' and the Activity Zone offered fairground and other adventures for children of all ages, some to watch and some to take part in.

The Air Tattoo is the biggest military airshow in the world and takes a massive amount of organisation, both in the year leading up to it and especially when the show is ongoing. There will be moans about delays getting into and out of the show car parks and there will be those who were upset to have missed one or both of the unannounced special flypasts. There were also a few cancellations on the day, some due to the weather and some because of technical glitches. But weather and technical glitches will happen and when 50,000 people are moving to and from the show there will be delays.

Overall, we think it is reasonable to marvel at how few issues there were. Over 150,000 people admired aircraft from 26 nations. Most of the planned displays took place, despite some awful weather, especially early on Saturday and late on Sunday: the B-2 arrived in good time all the way from Missouri and after a little bit of hanging around waiting for its slot, passed along the display line bang on time. Around 250 aircraft made it to the show - and all had to be garnered in and dispersed again in a meticulous operation.

We think it was one of the best Air Tattoos for quite some time. Next year the show will celebrate 100 years of the RAF. The RAF Charitable Trust have set the bar very high with this year's show. We look forward to seeing how they can top it in 2018.

US Navy Statics

The United States Navy showcased the world's most capable maritime patrol aircraft, the Boeing P-8A Poseidon on the ground at Fairford. The aircraft is on order for the Royal Air Force, who will take delivery of their first example from 2019, based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

Heavy Bombers

In another coup for the show this year, the US Air Force displayed two of its largest and most formidable aircraft. The aircraft, a B-52 Stratofortress and a B-1B Lancer were both on static display and joining them on the static park on Saturday and Sunday was a U-2 Reconnaissance Aircraft.

A long range strategic bomber, the B-52 entered service with the US military in the 1950s and became a frequent sight in the Cotswolds' skies during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Operation Allied Force in 1999 and Operation Desert Storm in 1991 when they operated out of RAF Fairford. The first operational B-1B flew with the US Air Force in 1986 and provided the air arm with a long range bomber that was both fast and manoeuvrable. It was last seen at the Air Tattoo in 2009. The B-52H came from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and the B-1B from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.

More USAF Statics

The USAF's forces stationed in the UK were further represented in the static line-up by two F-15C Eagle fighters and an F-15E Strike Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk. These potent aircraft have maintained a front-line USAF presence on British shores since the 1990s, and taken part in many overseas combat operations. Also from Lakenheath, there was a rare airshow appearance by an HH-60G Pave Hawk combat rescue helicopter, operated by the 56th Rescue Squadron.

RAF Mildenhall added to the static park a KC-135R Stratotanker air-to-air refuelling aircraft from the 351st Air Refuelling Squadron. The Boeing KC-135 has formed the backbone of the USAF's air-to-air refuelling force since the 1950s and was once a familiar sight at RAF Fairford when they were based at the Gloucestershire airfield on deployment. Joining them from the USAF 76th Airlift Squadron, part of the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein, Germany, was a C-21A twin-turbofan transport.

As well as the flying display example, the US Air Force also sent to the static display a CV-22B Osprey, a unique tiltrotor machine capable of flying like both a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft, which has made it successful as a Special Forces transport. Also from the USAF on static display were two F-16C fighter jets; the MC-130J Commando II tactical transport and tanker aircraft, used to support Special Operations alongside the 'Osprey' and a C-17A Globemaster.

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 Major Daniel 'Rock' Dickinson of the F-22 Demo Team.

Flying Schedule   (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)
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-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
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)
Bölkow 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)

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.

Getting to RIAT

By car

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. You have to book a car pass if you want to park at the show.

Click the blue text for the show's advice on getting to the airfield on show day or the blue button for Google's directions.


Park and Ride

As well as a shuttle from Swindon Bus Station, there is a free shuttle bus service between the show and Cheltenham Racecourse. Although tickets are free they must be booked in advance.

Details of the show's shuttle buses are on the RIAT web site.

By Train

The best rail station to use is Swindon, because there are (free in 2024) shuttle buses between Swindon bus 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.

By coach

Many coach companies arrange travel to RIAT, sometimes with inclusive travel and entry packages. Details of coach tours to RIAT are usually on the RIAT website.

Travel Advice

Road traffic updates
Highways Agency
Incidents and enquiries
National Railway Map
DIY pocket timetable
Journey planning by public transport
Route planners (Road)
Bing (Microsoft)

Accommodation near the show

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.

The location is already built in to the link but please check, and change as necessary, the dates, number of rooms and number of guests.


Some Options

There is a Premier Inn hotel in Cirencester and more in and around Swindon.

Travelodge have four hotels within 10 miles of the show. Locations include Swindon, Cirencester and Burford.

Click any of the blue names to go to the corresponding web site. The links already have the location built in, but please check, and change as necessary, the dates, number of rooms and number of guests.

Weather for the Air Tattoo area

UK Met Office Forecast

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

BBC Forecast

A 14-day forecast from the BBC

What the forecasts tell you

The Met Office 7-day forecast includes actual and "feels like" temperatures, the likelihood of rain, wind speed, wind direction, wind gusts and visibility: the latter can have an impact on the viability of displays.

The BBC's 14-day forecast has overall conditions including and hourly estimate of temperature, wind direction, wind speed and UV range.

Click the blue-text link to go to the forecast. The location is already built into the links.

2024 Show Basics


19 - 21 July 2024

Airshow links

Show's web site

Airband Frequencies

Frequencies expected to be in use are:
Tower: 124.800, 246.350
Approach: 123.550, 134.550
Other teams may have their own frequencies


No tickets on the gate.

Tickets are available now. RIAT tickets page

Car Parking

Parking is free but (new since 2023) requires a pass, which has to be booked when you buy your ticket.


Dogs are not permitted. Checks will be made in the car parks to ensure no animals are in distress. There are exceptions for guide dogs, hearing dogs and medical alert dogs but you should bring identification or other proof of status.


Sat Nav: GL7 4EG then follow signs.


For links to other travel and route planning web sites, click the 'Getting There' tab


Photos taken at previous RIAT airshows