Aircraft Update from Head of Air Operations
Published: 19 Nov 2021 updated: 16 Jan 2023
We thought you would like to hear from our Head of Air Operations, Peter Reoch, as he says he's very busy and we are all wondering what he and his team are up to at this time of year! Peter explains that far from being a quiet period for the Air Tattoo's Air Operations Department, the winter months are a critical period for the team in securing aircraft for the next show.
How do you decide which aircraft will take part in next summer's Air Tattoo?
We start by deciding on the themes for the event in April (15 months before the next event!), and over the summer we build the aircraft wish list considering factors such as aircraft that are relevant to the themes, practicalities of certain aircraft types attending (particularly those from other continents), rare aircraft types and any aircraft which it might be the last chance to see before their retirement from service. These are then worded into specific requests and fed into our formal invitation letters which are sent to the Commanders of Air Arms around the world in early October.
We follow these up with visits to their Defence Attachés at Embassies and High Commissions across London, which we carried out a few weeks ago. These conversations were particularly important this year to ensure we maintain our strong relationships with these representatives after a two-show hiatus. In addition to the formal process, we sometimes have international squadrons approach us directly wanting to bring their aircraft and we work to ensure their enthusiasm to attend is fed back to their chain of command to hopefully encourage the formal approach of their participation!
What are the themes for the Air Tattoo 2022?
Our anniversary theme will be a celebration of 75 years of the United States Air Force. As part of this theme, we plan to feature a diverse array of modern and historic United States Air Force aircraft both in our wonderful static displays and in the skies above RAF Fairford, with unique aerial demonstrations.
Our operational theme focuses on Training the Next Generation Air Force. We will shine the spotlight on all types of training aircraft, from elementary trainers which give young pilots their first taste of flight, all the way through to twin-stick operational conversion variants of modern combat jets. This will include showcasing iconic training aircraft in their final years of service, whilst also demonstrating new aircraft and systems which have revolutionised flying training. These will be linked into the Techno Zone® and ground exhibits to showcase technologies such as synthetic training devices. As part of the training theme, we also hope to incorporate aggressor aircraft from contractors who provide vital 'Red Air' services alongside other specialised flying training service providers.
In addition to the two main themes, we will also have a focus on Her Majesty the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and Sustainable Aviation.
How much will the pandemic affect your ability to attract international aircraft to the Air Tattoo?
After 3 years away there's a great enthusiasm from across the aviation community and I'm confident that, if things continue to go in the right direction, we'll have a good year with a full and diverse flying display programme as well as an extensive static display. New for 2022, the static aircraft park is being extended to include the South West loop which gives us an exciting opportunity to enhance the Green Zone over the weekend with lots of large aircraft for visitors to admire. We've already heard from an air arm of a nation that has never participated before and who have an ambition to participate with an aircraft. If this comes to fruition, they would be the 57th nation to attend which is very exciting news! Of course, all aircraft participation will be reliant on government/international travel restrictions, but with the removal of most travel constraints we're positive for a high level of international attendance next summer.
When will you start sharing news about these exciting aircraft that will be participating next summer?
Our policy is not to announce aircraft participation until we have received official confirmation of their attendance, which for most Air Arms is not decided until the Spring. However, we hope to be able to begin the weekly aircraft updates by February. These will include a behind the scenes update from the Air Operations Department as well as details about any aircraft which we have received confirmation of attendance for.
Can we expect to see any 'special' aerial set pieces or unique joint flypasts in the flying display and, if so, will they be on all three days of the airshow?
We listened to your feedback regarding the 2019 Air Tattoo and our objective is that the flying display programmes on Saturday and Sunday will be as similar as possible. We have several ideas and proposals for special aerial displays, which align with our themes, that the team will be working to try and make a reality over the coming months. Due to the complexity of arranging joint flypasts and unique set pieces, we'll be announcing these much closer to the show but please be assured we are working on them!
If you haven't yet bought your tickets demand is high so don't miss out and book HERE. Thank you for your continued support and see you next July.
Peter and the Air Operations Team
The picture shows David and Peter from the Air Tattoo Team at the Canadian High Commission a few weeks ago during their visits to Defence Attachés at Embassies and High Commissions across London.