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VISITORS to the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford this weekend will be able to see an aircraft that deliberately flies into violent storms and investigates volcanic ash clouds.

The BAe-146 Atmospheric Research Aircraft, from the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM), is making its first-ever appearance at an airshow, taking a break from research flights around the world to investigate weather, climate and the environment.

FAAM is jointly managed by the Swindon-based Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Met Office. The flying laboratory is fitted with highly-sophisticated scientific equipment that measures wind speed, temperature, humidity, the composition of particles in clouds and other atmospheric properties.

In 2010, the aircraft flew to the edge of the volcanic ash cloud that brought UK air traffic to a standstill, last year saw it fly into the most disruptive cyclone that Scotland had seen in decades, and in May this year it flew into the heart of ferocious storms battering southern England. The data collected will help improve weather forecasting by giving scientists unprecedented knowledge about what happens in the turbulent depths of a storm.

July 6, 2012

“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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