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ARA BAe 146-301

Aircraft enthusiasts searching for something a little 'unique' this summer need look no further than the Air Tattoo.

This is because an aircraft that undertakes research flights throughout the world investigating weather, climate and the environment, will be making its first ever appearance at an airshow.

The BAe146-301 Atmospheric Research Aircraft (ARA) is part of the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) and is based at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire.

The aircraft is fitted with highly sophisticated scientific measuring equipment that collects information for the UK atmospheric research community including the Meteorological Office and the Natural Environment Research Council.

In December 2011, the aircraft was used to record data on the violent storms that lashed Scotland. Using specialist equipment, scientists measured the storm's winds, temperature, humidity and cloud particles. The aircraft also dropped small instrument packages through the storm to measure profiles of wind, temperature and humidity.

Prior to attending the Air Tattoo, the aircraft will be involved in studies in Africa and immediately after will be providing atmospheric monitoring over Britain as well as carrying out studies around the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, which erupted in 2010.

The BAe146-301 replaced the unique C-130 W.2 Hercules XV208 'Snoopy', which was retired in 2001 having operated with the Meteorological Flight at Boscombe Down.

Photo courtesy of FAAM.

“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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