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THE COLOMBIANS have landed . . . and that means it's all systems go for this weekend's Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

The Colombian Air Force C-130H Hercules transport aircraft was the first arrival of around 300 aeroplanes which are scheduled to touch down at this year's airshow. And it was a double first for the South American nation as this year marks their Air Tattoo debut, making them the 52nd nation to participate at the event since 1971.

Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said: "It's always very exciting to see countries send aircraft for the first time and we consider it a great honour. Not only does it demonstrate the value of the Air Tattoo to many of the world's air arms in terms of defence diplomacy but it also shows that the Air Tattoo's reputation for providing a unique platform upon which nations can display their aviation excellence is truly global."

The Colombians provided real value, flying in two aircraft-in-one. The Hercules, beautifully decorated in the national colours of yellow, blue and red, and featuring a sea eagle design, flew in from Bogota via Lajes in the Azores, carrying a new basic trainer, the T-90 Calima, on board. It is believed that this will be the T-90 Calima's first appearance outside Colombia.

Bringing in the smaller aircraft proved something of a technical challenge, but the engineers of the Colombian Aeronautical Corporation Industry were up to the challenge, designing a special crate which enabled the T-90 to be mounted at a 45-degree angle, with the engine and wings dismounted, to fit neatly inside the Hercules.

Tickets for the Air Tattoo, priced from £39, are available here. Under-16s go free. No tickets will be available on the gates.

  • Click here for photos of the Colombian Air Force C-130H Hercules arriving at RIAT 2012

July 3, 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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