The last week or so has seen celebration and commemoration to mark the 100th Anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force on 1st Apr 1918.
As part of the RAF100 programme, the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) held at RAF Fairford joined in those celebrations with ground and air displays reflecting on the past 100 years of the RAF and looking forward, hoping to inspire the next generation of would be pilots and engineers.
RAF 100 FLYPAST – Top: Diamond 9 Typhoon FGR4 from RAF Coningsby. Bottom: 617 Sqn Commemoration Tornado GR4A Lancaster and F35B Lightning II in formation.
Past Present and Future: 617 Sqn “Dambusters” Tribute Lancaster, Tornado GR4A and F35B Lightning II
One element of the display illustrating past present and future was the display by aircraft representing probably the most famous RAF Squadron, No. 617 Sqn, “The Dambusters” with a flypast of three of their aircraft. The past, represented by the Avro Lancaster, the present by the Tornado GR4A and the future by the newly delivered F35B Lightning II in formation. Sadly the mainstay of 617 Sqn during the early part of the Cold War, The Vulcan, is no longer flying, and the Tornado was making its last appearance at RIAT before being withdrawn from service next year after 35 years service, leaving the F35B as the future. I spent around a third of my RAF career working around the Tornado and have a special affection for this jet. It was sad to see it for the last time in a display.
The RAF was born out of the merger of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service at the tail end of WW1. The Bremont Great War Display Team have built replicas of some of the aircraft flown in WW1 and these were displayed at RIAT as part of the RAF 100 to remember those flying pioneers and to serve as a memorial to all those who have died in conflict serving in the Royal Air Force.
Aircraft from the Bremont Great War Display Team L-R: SE5A, Fokker DR1 Triplane, Simulated dogfight between the SE5A and the Triplane.
This event is truly international with static and flying contributions from around the world; from Australia to the USA via Pakistan, Jordan and Ukraine to name but a few. Below are a few of the aircraft from around the world at RIAT 2018.
International Contributions: Top row L-R: USAF F35A; Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon F2000; Airbus A400M Transport (Multinational); OV10 Spotter plane from the German Army. Bottom L-R: NH90 helicopter from the Finnish Army; Two Dassault Mirage F2000 “Couteau Delta” Sabb Grippen from the Czech Air Force; USAF Rockwell B1 Lancer.
No air display would be complete without those hooligans of the sky, the aerobatic teams; those pilots whose skill and judgement provide thrills and pleasure to watching crowds by flying close together in tight formation and performing aerobatic ballet for our delight.
RIAT 2018 was visited by five teams this year and four of those teams appear in the pictures below.
Aermacchi AT 339 of The Italian Air Force “Frecce Tricolori”
Casa C-101 EB Aviojets of the Spanish Air Force Aerobatic Team, “Patrulla Aguila”
Pilatus NPC – 7 of the Swiss Air Force Aerobatic Team
BAe Hawk T1/T1A of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team “The Red Arrows”
The undoubted starts of this air show were the Red Arrows. They were the highlight of the show for many and it is easy to see why. After they had performed late on in the day, the crowds began to head en-masse for the exits despite there being another 90 minutes of display flying!
More Red Arrows Pictures: