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  Royal International Air Tattoo - RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, July 12, 2014

 


Comment -
After the lacklustre 2013 show (including my personal dismay at the distance of the displaying aircraft from the crowd line) I was not intending to visit RIAT in 2014.  That is until the draw of a pair of Polish Air Force Su-22M-4 Fitters and the announced F-35B Lightning IIs made it a show not to be missed.  I therefore made the trip west, this time hedging my bets in terms of distance, by heading for the Rhymes Farm campsite which places you a matter of metres from the display line requiring sharp reflexes, steely nerves and a certain faith in your guardian angel.  Additionally, after two visits now to this site my personal conclusion, alongside the obvious risk and argument over 'freeloading', is that in most cases it is too close, and if the sun is out you are shooting into it a lot of the time.  For example, my Su-22 shots are mainly undersides and silhouettes with a lot better obtained from within the show itself.  

Given today's climate of budget cuts and minimal airpower the show excelled, with several fast jet displays filling the sky with noise.  Alongside the classic Sukhois there were three F-16 displays, two Typhoons, two Hornets (the Swiss legacy FA-18C and Boeing's FA-18F Super Hornet), A Gripen and Italian Tornado IDS and AMX.  Display teams included the Red Arrows, Patrouille Suisse, Frecce Tricolori and La Patrouille de France while rotary fans were treated to the AAC Apache and RAF Chinook displays.  The quality of the flying was reflected by the fact that the no show from the F-35Bs made no real difference to the enjoyment of the show.  Yes, it would have been great to see them but their absence, caused by a catastrophic engine fire that affected a F-35A variant prior to the show and grounded the whole F-35 fleet, was more than made up for by the rest of the displays. 

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