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Introducing Our New CEO

Published: 15 Nov 2019


Dear Air Tattoo Supporter,

As you may be aware, a little over six weeks ago, I took on the role as Chief Executive Officer of the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises (RAFCTE), which organises RIAT. As a valued supporter, I thought it appropriate to introduce myself to you and reassure you of my commitment to the world's greatest airshow.

Over the years, it's been my good fortune to have attended RAFCTE organised events including RIAT and concert performances. These occasions have all been highly memorable and on joining the company it has been a pleasure to meet the team of hardworking permanent staff and volunteers that make these events such a success.

I was fortunate to be 'observing behind the scenes' at this year's RIAT and have subsequently seen all the feedback and customer comment cards as well as being present at the RAFCTE wash up and 2020 planning meetings.

A topic I picked up on in the comment cards from this year, which as a pilot I thought I would answer, concerns the length of the grass on the airfield. The reason the grass is kept long is that all operational airfields strive to deter bird activity to reduce the risk of aircraft bird-strikes. Short grass is attractive to birds so the adoption of a long-grass regime is a very effective airfield bird deterrent as it restricts their vision at ground level, thus making them feel less secure; it also limits their access to food sources on the ground. Whilst we would like to cut the grass to ease accessibility this is just not possible from a safety/regulation perspective and of course the USAF are operating aircraft from Fairford throughout the year.

I hope this helps explain one aspect of our operation. My intention is to provide regular updates to share our plans for next July and hopefully answer some more of the questions you raised after this year's show.

Thank you for joining us at RIAT and for your ongoing support of all RAFCTE events which of course assists the excellent work of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.

Kind regards

Paul Atherton

Chief Executive Officer RAFCTE

“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, Former Formula 1 Racing Driver

“Probably the most complete air show I’ve ever been to!”

Al Worden, Apollo 15 Astronaut

“This is THE best airshow!”

Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut

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