RAF Fairford This years Air Tattoo will be remembered first for the wet weather though this failed to spoil the event for thousands. The aircraft component was possibly the best for many year following lots of intense effort from the organisers. Highlights were the first appearance at a western airshow by the Japanese military with a KC767 tanker and two display teams on first visits to the UK; the South Korean Black Eagles with their T-50s, airfreighted in by 747s, and the Macchi MB339s of Al Fursan from the Emirates. Of the two the Koreans were the more innovative with continuous action and tight choreography.
This centenary event (4-5th June 2011) was the flagship of a series of events this year. The Turkish authorities extended a welcome hand to all comers, including the spotting community; even hosting spotter's days on the Friday and Monday to watch arrivals and departures. Over 1000 registered free for this bringing considerable income to the area and Turkey's gateway, Istanbul.
With so many forces committed to military tasks it was fortunate that the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain was the focus of this year's show. A plethora of Spitfires and Hurricanes, accompanied by examples of 'the foe', graced the skies over Gloucestershire with Saturday in particular enjoying fine weather. Flight Training was also recognised, it being the 150th anniversary of the UK Cadet Force.
RIAT 2009 went ahead despite the wet conditions, on base parking for ‘Park and View’ and 5km of metal roads help relieve the pressure on the car park fields. A sell-out crowd in excess of 160,00 enjoyed a weekend of flying involving 269 aircraft from 33 air arms representing 22 counties. Saturdays weather stayed dry but a mixture of low clouds and blue skies gave the display pilots a challenge to make best use of the changing conditions through their display.
After the cancellation of the 2008 event due to water-logging of the site, particularly the car parks; this year's team had taken every precaution; doubling car park space off site and allowing some on airfield parking for the first time since 9-11. It was very successful though the allocation of ramp space, the recession and military commitments elsewhere reduced participation by some air forces.