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  Royal International Air Tattoo - RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, July 20, 2013


Comment -
I will have to admit straight away that, photographically, this was one of the most disappointing airshows I have attended. We paid for a seat in the viewing village grandstand to find it was set quite far back from the crowd line, especially when compared to the FRIAT stand, which meant even with a 300mm lens and 1.4 TC the fast jets were never going to fill the frame. I personally also found the seating too restrictive in terms of panning. Anyway - one lesson learned - donít shoot from there again!

In terms of the show itself, the organisers obviously struggled with the lack of USAF assets on the ground due to the US sequestration budget fiasco. For me, having not been inside a RIAT for many years the static was a real shock and, if I look back to the mid 90s, it is not even a shadow of its former self. I guess this is the harsh economic reality of today.

The flying display itself was ok. Yes, there was nothing from the US, but this had been less and less a factor in the last couple of years, 2010 being perhaps the most vintage year with the F-22A Raptor and B-52 being notable highlights in the air. For me the big drawer was the Polish MiG-29 Fulcrum and I was chuffed that the sun managed to make one of its brief appearances at this point. Other highlights included the Red Arrows flypasts in formation with a British Airways A380 and the fantastic display from the menacing looking Airbus A400M. In terms of other fast jets we had two F-16s, two Eurofighters, two Gripens and the Rafale. I just cannot get excited about the Gripen, but the Eurofighters and Rafale made enough noise to keep me happy! I missed the Danish F-16 as I was still hiking to the grandstand and all I remember from the Belgian one is that it seemed very far away!

Perhaps the most disappointing display was from the Vulcan. With so much money poured into this cause the flypasts were exceedingly underwhelming. I am also waiting for the day when we get a topside pass - just one would be nice!

Finally, the nicest part of the day was seeing Midair Squadrons Canberra PR9 XH134 G-OMHD parked up in the static display after making its first flight after restoration a few days previously and I look forward to seeing this machine in the skies next season!

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