The Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom is the largest military airshow in the World. Taking place annually over the third weekend of July, this year’s show saw 245 static and flying aircraft representing 26 different countries and 39 military air arms including circa 40 “civilian” aircraft also joining. Arrivals action started on Wednesday 17th July, with nearly 60 movements that day. The busiest day was the Thursday with over 100 movements, followed by a few more on Friday morning ahead of the half-day show, followed by two packed days over the weekend and departures day on the Monday.
It’s safe to say the arrivals days were very busy with photographers this year. Car parks were already filling from 6am even though entry wasn’t until 7.30am. Friday unfortunately turned into a washout with torrential rain, meaning most displays were cancelled with a lot of people staying away. But the weekend drew its usual large crowds heading up towards 200,000 people per day.
This year’s theme was Air & Space but also included the 70th anniversary of NATO with a flypast of aircraft; the 100th anniversary of British Airways with a flypast of the Red Arrows either side of a BA 747 in its stunning retro BOAC livery and to mark the 50th anniversary of the first flight of Concorde, the Red Arrows and the Patrouille de France flew their Concorde formations together.
Other highlights of the show were the two Spanish Navy EAV-8B Harriers, two Turkish F-4 Phantoms, two Romanian Mig-21 LanceR-C’s and two Ukrainian Su-27 Flankers.
Sadly, 2019 also seemed to be the “Year of Going Tech”, with failures for the German Tornado, the NATO EC-3A Sentry, three for the Patrouille de France, one for the Italian Frecce Tricolori, the RAF Chinook Display team and a brake fire on one of the Spanish Harriers after a long taxi which rendered it unusable for 2 days. We also had the US F-16 Viper Demo team in action which was stunning, although "Toro" suffered severe horizontal stabiliser damage early in Sunday's display and performed an emergency landing.
The images will give you a good mix of shots over the days where you easily take in excess of 10,000 images. There are plenty of places to shoot from for variety, lighting and composition if you ever visit. Just bring your long lens! - Carl Wrightson
**From contributor Matt Mansell: A personal highlight of the weekend spent at RIAT was spending some quality time with the guys and girls of the 494th Fighter Squadron. I'd love to make a special mention to 'Crow', 'Pinball', 'Ultra' and 'Poppy'; never have I met such an enthusiastic crew who were all so willing to give their time to talk, take photos and share their stories. This was an incredibly inspirational group of people and they've provided me with memories that will stay with me forever.