Air Tattoo Crowds Enjoy Feast of Flying
Published: 21 Jul 2019 updated: 28 Oct 2019
Organisers of the Royal International Air Tattoo® have described as "out of this world" the feast of flying served up to bumper crowds over the three-day event at RAF Fairford.
The airshow, whose theme for 2019 was Air & Space: Inspiring the Next Generation Air Force, attracted 170,000 visitors including British astronaut Maj Tim Peake. Maj Peake dedicated most of his visit engaging with young people in the critically acclaimed Techno Zone®. He said: "It was satisfying to see the wonderful impact that the Techno Zone® is having in promoting STEM and inspiring youngsters."
In total, 245 aircraft from 39 air arms representing 25 nations took part in the event, including the RAF Red Arrows, whose performance on Sunday marked their final UK public display this year before they depart on their Western Hawk 19 tour of North America.
Over the three days of the airshow, spectacular aerial set pieces were staged including a unique joint flypast by the RAF Red Arrows and a specially-painted British Airways Boeing 747 jumbo jet to mark the airline's centenary. NATO's 70th anniversary was marked by a commemorative flypast by aircraft from a number of member nations including F-16s from Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Norway. They were joined by three RAF Typhoons, F-15s from the US Air Force, a German Typhoon and a French KC-135.
Other set pieces staged during the three days included a joint flypast by the Red Arrows and French aerobatic display team the Patrouille France, plus a rare joint formation by an Airbus A400M and civilian aerobatic team The Blades.
Flying display highlights included the Romanian Mikoyan MiG-21, an icon from the Cold War that hasn't flown at the Air Tattoo since 2001 and the Soviet-era Sukhoi Su-27, which performed an imposing and agile display. There was also a debut by the hugely popular Spanish Navy Harrier duo.
On the ground, visitors were able to see up close rarely seen aircraft including a giant Qatari C-17, the imposing USAF B-52 and rare F-4 Phantoms from the Turkish Air Force.
There was an Air Tattoo debut for the Embraer Super Tucano and a world debut for the Northrop Grumman Firebird, an optionally manned surveillance aircraft. The public were also able to view for the first time all seven training aircraft used by the UK's military under the Military Flying Training System operated by Ascent Flying Training consortium.
British and Swedish government ministers used the show to herald a new agreement to work together on a future fighter aircraft, the Tempest, further cementing the show's growing role as a showcase for aerospace and technology.
Among the many senior military guests were Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee; General David Goldfein, US Air Force Chief of Staff, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, Royal Air Force. Senior industry guests included Sir Roger Carr, Chairman of BAE Systems and Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence & Space.
Also at the airshow were HRH Prince Michael of Kent, the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade; Minister for Defence Procurement Mr Stuart Andrew, Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist and Minister of State for the Armed Forces, the Rt Hon Mark Lancaster.
Air Tattoo Chief Executive Andy Armstrong said: "The past three days have been out of this world. We've seen an incredible display of aircraft from around the globe both in the air and on the ground as well as some memorable, unique joint flypasts.
"With the Air Tattoo taking place on the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, we've also had the opportunity to inspire our thousands of young visitors who've been discovering some of the exciting ways space will play a part in their future.
"I'd like to thank our title sponsor BAE Systems for their continued and valued support."