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Volunteer Testimonials

Julie Bate, Receptionist on Staff Reception
RIAT Volunteer for 3 years

In 2008, I came to work at RIAT as a member of the 606 Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadron to undertake trade training as a Personnel Administrator. In 2011 I still ask the Squadron Leader if I can go back.

We supported RIAT Staff Reception team. The job entails meeting and greeting volunteers, checking them in, issuing them relevant passes, accommodation keys, driving permits and taking technical site photos. We also support the full time staff to trouble shoot any issues that may occur.

The team volunteers for a week because we have several hundred volunteers to check in and support per year. The latter half of the week is quieter which gives us time to go down to the Showground so we never miss out. People are always offering to take us around the site and making us cups of tea because Staff Reception is not based on the Showground.

2011 was my third year and we are already planning for 2012. I have a long way to beat the record for longest voluntary service, as some have volunteered for over 25 years. It is difficult to become a volunteer because people come back again and again, but once you have volunteered you will understand why!

Within the first year I was addicted to the RIAT Spirit and being part of a family of over 3,000 volunteers and staff. All members of the family work hard and play hard. The fancy dress costumes, people's generosity all contribute to the amazing RIAT spirit. It is like the 'good old days' where you can chat to anyone and they will chat back, it is very safe and you make friends for life.

Staff Reception is a great team and our role allows us to meet a lot of the Volunteers so maybe we will be meeting you next year......

Squadron Leader Owen Crossby, VIP BBQ Manager - VIP Events Team
RIAT Volunteer for 12 years

My position title can be a bit misleading; although in the VIP Events Team we all have a specific role to play, everyone chips in to help at all the events throughout the Show week. Whether it is (to name but a few) the Aircrew Meet and Greet on the Thursday, the Gala Dinner on the Friday, my own event on the Saturday or the Hangar Party on the Sunday, there is always plenty to be done and we all help each other out to ensure that the events go smoothly for our guests. It gives a great feeling of satisfaction to see the events come together, and particularly the "wow" factor of new guests seeing them for the first time; it helps, of course, that the events generate money through sponsorship that will go to worthy causes, so you know that the long hours and painful feet are worth it in the end!

Although I've been a volunteer for 12 years, I have actually been involved in 13 shows so far, as my first year (1999) was as a Holding Officer straight out of Initial Officer Training at Cranwell and with no idea what I was getting into. I remember vividly that my first task as a Commissioned Officer, which was at RIAT, was to find out exactly how far beneath a helicopter you needed to hang a flag for a flypast; I learnt quite a lot about the organisation and responsibilities of the RAF just from that one question! I absolutely loved the buzz that the slight chaos of thousands of volunteers descending upon the handful of permanent staff with just a week to go caused, and I cannot praise enough the ability of those permanent staff to hand everything over to us volunteers and keep us on track with just the right amount of questions to make sure we remember everything!

I think it is the 'triumph over adversity' feeling that keeps me coming back, as I know that whatever problems present themselves the team will pull together to overcome them and the sense of getting there at the end is all the better for it. RIAT is a fantastic experience and despite all the hard work we do still manage to have fun!

Emma Pierce, Ranger on the Site Team
RIAT Volunteer for 7 years

I started at the Airshow in 2004 with the Air Training Corps working on the SWAT team alongside the RIAT site team. I have since done 7 shows, 2 with SWAT and 5 with Site Team. Together we mark out structures, instate cone roads, erect fences and crowd barrier and manage stores (among other things!) The dynamic amongst the team is fantastic.

The diversity of age and experience mixed with the wonderful variety of characters gives us a team with a great attitude who work hard and play harder. The sense of achievement and pride that comes with volunteering for such a great cause compliments the camaraderie making it pretty obvious whywe all come back each year.

Es George, Airside Transport Manager on the Aircrew Reception Team
RIAT Volunteer for 20 years

As a keen aviation enthusiast and aircraft modeller, I had always tried to get to one Airshow a year. Then, one day in early 1989, I was in the right place and right time when someone put out a call for a volunteer aircrew transport driver. I jumped at the chance, and whilst I've missed the 1990, 1993 and 1996 shows, RIAT 2011 was my 20th year as a volunteer.

I'm lucky enough, now as the Airside Transport Manager, to run the team that is responsible for getting visiting air and ground crews around the Show. As part of the Aircrew Reception Team in the Flight Centre, we are the first and among the last points of contact that crews have, so it's important that not only do we create a positive first impression, but help to cement some lasting memories. I love every aspect of my RIAT job. Over the years, I have made some great friends from all over the world, and have seen some outstanding people develop as individuals; you see, our team, whilst refreshed with new blood each year, has a core of volunteers that keep coming back. Not only that, we meet outside of show time a couple of times a year.

It's an honour to be involved with RIAT, and to be able to put something back in to the RAF community. As I write, I'm playing back some fond memories from RIAT 11, and am already wrapping my mind round the challenges for RIAT 12. My excitement for my 21st year of involvement will be just like my first, and it's difficult to imagine a year without the 10 days of unrivalled excitement, camaraderie, hard work and above all, FUN!!

Megan Jones, Sales Assistant on the Trading Team
RIAT Volunteer for 1 years

I was inspired to do my first year volunteering at RIAT by the death of a friend. After learning more about his life, I was moved to give more of my time for others as he had done. Living so close by and having an interest in aviation, RIAT was the perfect opportunity to start and I could not have asked for a more supportive, friendly and fun group of people to have worked with. Everyone wanted to help, nothing was too much trouble and the team spirit was incredible.

Even with some early starts and late nights, we all got through the day supporting each other and being kept motivated by the fantastic team leaders. We all socialised together in the evenings and I have made some friends for life. I have been totally bitten by the RIAT bug and can see why people come back year after year to volunteer, I only wish I made the effort years ago! Try and stop me coming back next time!

“It was an epic spectacle, as magical as anything you've ever seen in the West End, and as loud as anything you've ever heard at Knebworth.”

Jeremy Clarkson, Television Presenter

“All the thrills, excitement and noise of a Grand Prix, but in the air!”

Jenson Button, Formula 1 Racing Driver

“This is the best airshow!”

Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut

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