That's a wrap! The Royal International Air Tattoo proves it's still worthy of the title 'the world's greatest airshow'
Published: 17 Jul 2022
Three years since its last edition, the world's largest military airshow made its triumphant return to Gloucestershire this weekend with its most successful show ever.
The airshow welcomed 266 aircraft, and 1,500 crew members from across the globe in a celebration of aviation, science, and engineering. Visitors included representatives from the Kingdom of Bahrain - the 57th nation to participate in RIAT with its first ever appearance, and A-list aviation enthusiast, Tom Cruise.
Paul Atherton, Chief Executive of the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises, the organisers of RIAT, said: "I've been blown away by the support we have received for the long-awaited return of RIAT. Around 200,000 people have been here this weekend - visitors, volunteers, partners, and all those involved in the build. I'd like to personally thank every single one of them for helping RIAT to return with such success."
From 15 - 17 July, RAF Fairford played host to a three-day-long extravaganza of flying displays, static exhibits, and interactive family entertainment. Appetite from participants and visitors was at an all-time high, with tickets to all three days selling out before the show, and flying displays on Saturday and Sunday being extended to over eight hours to accommodate those from around the world who wished to participate.
Centred around the joint themes of "Training the Next Generation", the United States' Air Force's 75th anniversary, and with a specific focus on sustainability, the show featured a spectacular line-up of aircraft. For the USAF, this included the E-4B, one of only four of its kind in the world.
The show organisers are measuring the impacts of the event in order to help them make improvements to their carbon footprint over the next few years. Changes have already been taking place at this year's show with the reduction in single use plastics, all waste being diverted from landfill, increased recycling of large event items and working with our partners and exhibitors to highlight the innovations that they are making in aviation sustainability.
Cutting-edge sustainable examples included the fully-electric Pipistrel Electro, and the synthetically-fuelled Ikarus C42.
From astronauts to fighter pilots to ground and air crew, the weekend was filled with opportunities to interact with the people who make the world of aviation turn. With the help of the RAF Charitable Trust, the charity for whom RIAT raises funds, a number of high-profile guests enthralled crowds in the Techno Zone with stories of trailblazing careers, intrepid space exploration, and cutting-edge science and technology.
Jo Salter, the UK's first female fast jet pilot and an Ambassador of the RAF Charitable Trust said: "The line-up this weekend has been brilliant. As incredible as the aircraft displays are, I've also been taking a minute to appreciate the sight of young people returning to RIAT with excitement and enthusiasm. The RAF Charitable Trust has done a stellar job of curating exhibitions, speakers and events that will inspire young people to fulfil their potential. I'm sure many children who visited this weekend left as future pilots, engineers and scientists because of what they experienced here."
Appetite for the show was sky-high after its three-year hiatus, with visitors coming from all over the world to see RIAT's return. While many used the shuttle bus and park-and-ride services from Cheltenham and Swindon, one arrival had its roots firmly in Hollywood. Top Gun star Tom Cruise's visit was a closely-guarded secret, and the star spent time with RIAT visitors and volunteers, taking time to talk with those who had been inspired by his own passion for aviation.
Jo Salter said: "I had the amazing opportunity to host Tom Cruise on Saturday and saw first-hand his passion for aviation and inspiring the next generation."
With world-renowned guests, unprecedented demand, and an ever-growing list of international participants, it's clear that the Royal International Air Tattoo has proven itself still worthy of its title "the world's greatest airshow".