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Air Tattoo Pays Tribute To 'The Few'

Published: 17 Jul 2015

A spectacular collection of warbirds including Spitfires, Hurricanes, a Seafire, a Bristol Blenheim and a Hispano Buchon have taken to the air at the Royal International Air Tattoo in a dramatic tribute to those who took part in the Battle of Britain.

Fourteen vintage aircraft from across the UK and Europe gathered at RAF Fairford for a special flypast, watched by three veteran pilots who took part in the Battle of Britain. Sqn Ldrs Geoffrey Wellum and Tony Pickering, together with Fg Off Ken Wilkinson, led the salute as the aircraft flew past in formation.

All eyes turned skywards as the salute was followed by more formation passes and a mock dog-fight featuring a Buchon and Spitfire. Commentary by the Air Tattoo's Ben Dunnell set the scene, with the script including contemporary quotes from Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding, Air Officer Commanding RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, and veterans' memories of the conflict.

And there was an emotional ending as the 14 aircraft touched down to the strains of Nimrod, from the Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar.

The spectacle will be repeated, minus the salute, tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday, with the Battle of Britain tribute forming part of the Air Tattoo's broader theme Securing the Skies - Past, Present & Future.

CAPTION: from left, veteran Battle of Britain pilots Fg Officer Ken Wilkinson, Sgn Ldr Geoffrey Wellum, Sqn Ldr Tony Pickering, Secretary of State for Defence the Rt Hon Michael Fallon, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, Air Transport Auxiliary veteran Spitfire pilot Joy Lofthouse and Mrs Chris Pickering.

“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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