Crowds Thrill To Spectacular Air Tattoo
Published: 19 Jul 2015 updated: 21 Oct 2015
A bumper crowd of almost 150,000 people were treated to a spectacular display of aviation from across the globe during the three-day Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford (July 17 to 19).
The highlights included a massed flypast of vintage warbirds to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. On the Friday, this culminated in a special Salute taken by three wartime pilots - Fg Off Ken Wilkinson with Sqn Ldrs Geoffrey Wellum and Tony Pickering - who were joined by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford.
The ever-popular Vulcan XH558 made its final Air Tattoo appearances before it retires at the end of this year. The delta-winged Cold War bomber performed dramatic solo displays followed by joint flypasts with the RAF Red Arrows on Saturday and Sunday. The airshow also hosted the international debut of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force's Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft, which performed in the flying display and attracted significant interest on the ground.
Aviation fans welcomed the Qatar Emiri Air Force Lockheed C-130J Hercules, with the Gulf State becoming the 55th nation to appear at the show, and five aerobatic display teams performed spectacular routines with the Patrouille de France, Patrulla Aguila from Spain, the Swiss PC-7 Team and the Royal Jordanian Falcons joining the Red Arrows in thrilling the crowds.
In total 247 aircraft from 19 nations took part in the Air Tattoo. Forty-three military chiefs were represented including Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andy Pulford and Chief of the US Air Force General Mark Welsh III. Industry guests included Marillyn Hewson, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin and Guy Griffiths, Group Managing Director, International, BAE Systems.
Royalty was at the airshow with HRH Prince Michael of Kent, HRH the Duke of Kent and HRH Prince Feisal of Jordan enjoying the event.
Celebrities attending included Sir David Jason, an Honorary Vice Patron of the Air Tattoo; former model Jodie Kidd; TV personality Carol Vorderman; comedian Eddie Izzard; Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson; actor Matthew Lewis; and broadcaster Eamonn Holmes.
Air Tattoo Chief Executive Andy Armstrong said he was delighted that a large crowd had been treated to one of the most exciting Air Tattoos in recent memory.
He said: "The range of aircraft on display both in the air and on the ground has been incredible and we are grateful to all the air arms from around the world that participated and helped make the event such a success.
"As well as providing one of the world's greatest aviation spectacles, the Air Tattoo plays an important role in support of UK defence diplomacy, and the 2015 airshow once again provided a relaxed yet dynamic meeting place where senior industry figures and military chiefs could come together to celebrate the best of aviation.
"Through our parent charity, the RAF Charitable Trust, one of the primary aims of the Air Tattoo is to promote the Royal Air Force each year and I am pleased that we succeeded in achieving this so effectively over the three-day airshow."
The Air Tattoo medical teams reported a quiet time, with only 125 visitors requiring attention. Senior Medical Officer Darren Ellison said: "Compared to the normal RIAT, that is really low. Everything went very smoothly, and there's nothing to report . . . which is great for everyone involved."
Senior Fire Officer Barry Scott also reported a quiet show. He said: "The only incidents were two fires in the car parks, one being a vehicle fire and the other a couple having a barbecue! Other than that, the fire crews carried out a salute to a member of the Swiss PC-7 team, who performed his last display at RIAT. We created a water arch with water cannon off the fire vehicles, and that was enjoyed by the crew and the Swiss team very much."
Visitors to the show travelled from near and far to attend the event. Chris Norton, 49, from Bournemouth, said: "We got here at 7am as we were so excited. I have been coming here since 1985 and now bring my young son along, and we absolutely love it."
Laura Rogers, 30, from Bristol, said: "My favourite bit was the Red Arrows but I also loved the Spitfire and the Vulcan! The airshow has been amazing and I've been surprised at how much there is to do here. I think I needed two days to get round the show as well as sit down and watch the displays."
Glyn Delahaye, 62, from West Yorkshire, added: "It's been fabulous. The weather has been brilliant and it meant we could see a fantastic show. We travelled for hours to come and see the Vulcan but when it flew with the Red Arrows we were blown away. Thank you for such an amazing show."