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  Royal International Air Tattoo - RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, 17th July 2011


Comment -
Ok, a confession to make.  This was my first Royal International Air Tattoo for many years! In fact my last visit was probably in the 90s back when the static was immense.  Endless rows of Tornados, F-16s, F-15s, Mirage, Super Etendard, F-8 Crusader, A-7 Corsairs, F-4 Phantoms, Buccaneers, F-104s, Jaguars, Harriers, Sea Harriers, A-10 Thunderbolts, F-111s, U-2, B-1B, B-52, C-5 Galaxy, Hercules, KC-135, KC-10A.. the list goes on, a reminder of the Cold War's legacy and economies that were yet to be hit by the busts of the 21st century.  Now the show seems a shadow of its former glory.  Not the organiser's fault but a fact of slashed defence budgets and overstretched operational units (and dare I say the growth of UAVs?)  Will there be a time when the single seat fighter jet no longer blasts its way through the skies for our enjoyment and also as a reminder of the continued fight for freedom?  Well, let's damn well hope not because there is still spectacle to be had and this year's display still saw F-16, Gripen, Rafale, Typhoon and Tornado fly the flag for fast jets, alongside the big draw of the flying display for me, the A-10C Thunderbolt demo.  Additionally, seeing the C-27J twin engine transport loop and roll above my head was awe inspiring and certainly had the 'wow' factor!  Yes, there were issues and a lot of flak was thrown at the organisers for not re-jigging the display program on the Saturday to take into account the exotics which had not been able to make their slots in the morning due to the weather.  Some also found the Air Cadet's fly by rather lost amongst the massive Fairford skies (and lets not mention Alexandra Burke...).  However, all-in-all it was a great show and I will certainly be going back for more.

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