Every two years industry giants and minnows flock to Farnborough to sign and announce contracts and size up opportunities for the future. 2012 was no exception though the appalling wet weather clearly dampened their spirits if the world wide recession was not enough. However, many orders were placed and the organisers strove to reduce mud levels to a manageable level.
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 year's Farnborough show was dominated by Boeing with their 787 Dreamliner. this was the first appearance outside the USA. It was disappointing to all that it only stayed from Sunday to Tuesday with only one proper flying demonstration to invited guests. If anything, the first impression is of a very stylish, smooth, airframe though it seems stunted and small compared to the endless artist's impressions. Another UK newcomer was the Airbus 330 Freighter and the A400, fresh from IAT. The F-22 Raptor flew in and was highly agile for such a large aircraft. Other fast jets included the Typhoon, F-16 and F-18, all of which displayed with underwing stores showing that they can 'mix it' effectively without a clean wing.
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.