MAB 2017, Chambley, France, 21-30 July 2017 Report by Peter and Kim Davison This is now billed as the biggest hot-air balloon gathering in the world. Only Albuquerque, New Mexico comes close. Held every two years, this, the fifteenth such show in the Region of Grand Est, centred near Metz, birthplace of Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier, the world's first aeronaut. This French region has four international borders and over sixteen nations were represented in mass ascents at 0630 and 1830 each day subject to suitable weather conditions.
RIAT 2017, RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, England 14-16 July 2017 Report by Peter Davison and Colin Coulthard RIAT prides itself on being the largest military airshow in the world and, this year, certainly lived up to that claim. RAF Fairford, being a major US Air Force staging post, was an appropriate venue to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the USAF; the dominant theme of this year's event. The 75th Anniversary of the RAF Regiment was also commemorated. The enhanced USAF participation included the 'Thunderbirds' display team and the rare appearance of all three strategic bomber types; B-52 and B-1 on static display and a rare visit from a B-2 Spirit on the Sunday afternoon.
BA113 Portes Ouvertes, St Dizier, France 1 - 2 July 2017 Report by Peter Davison Regular military airshow visitors have grown fond of the Dassault Rafale with its sleek lines, auto-focus loving edges and dynamic performance in recent years. As France's primary Rafale base, St Dizier did not disappoint with numerous examples on show in special marks, under maintenance and in action. The squadron is to be commended for not subscribing to the regrettable adage 'seen one and you have seen them all'.
ALAT base Phalsbourg, France, 1 -2 July 2017 Report by Peter Davison The French Army, ALAT (Aviation legere Armee de terre), operates a large fleet of helicopters both for ground support and attack capabilities. For many decades this was based around the Puma and Gazelle but recent years have seen the introduction of more modern types. The Eurocopter Tiger and NH90 in particular and both types were on show.
35th Anniversary event, Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany, 1 - 2 July 2017 Report by Peter Davison The NATO joint base at Geilenkirchen is home to the NATO fleet of Boeing E-3A Sentry AWACS squadron that is shared by all the member states and provides Command, Control and active radar cover for NATO operations within strict guidelines in many theatres. This was a rare opportunity to witness their operational family of nations in one place. Although attracting numerous participants there was no flying display; the runway playing host to four of the eighteen based E-3s.
EFLEVA fly-in Sanicole, Belgium, 30 June - 2nd July 2017 Report by Peter Davison EFLEVA, the European Federation of light, experimental and vintage aircraft is now ten years old and brings together constructors, restorers and operators within the sector throughout Europe. This was their first gathering with around two hundred bookings from across the continent. Sadly the weather did not co-operate thereby reducing those able to make the journey but those that did found a hospitable greeting and numerous opportunities to share their experiences.
Paris Air Show, Le Bourget, France 20th-25th June 2017 Report by Peter Davison and Colin Coulthard Having visited every Paris Salon since 1973 I can confirm that this event enjoyed, or suffered, the hottest weather on record. This spectacular trade show brings together all the aviation nations to showcase their products both in the extensive exhibition halls and, in the air or on static display, their latest products. An amazing number of commercial orders were either negotiated or announced with Boeing's 737 MAX taking the top spot. This failed to distract from the massive lead Airbus enjoys having brought the A321 to market well ahead of the Boeing product.