RIAT 2011 Part 1 – of smoke trails and Jet A1.
It’s mid July on the border of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and the sweet smell of Jet A1 pervades the early morning air. It can only mean one thing. RIAT! My annual week-long pilgrimage to the gods of fast jet and turbines.
As ever the British Weather threatened to spoil everything; but save for rain on Saturday morning (which gave way to superb sunny conditions) and a cloud layer on Sunday, it failed so to do. The numbers of participants were inevitably down on previous years. The aircraft simply arent in service in such numbers anymore and global financial conditions and putting a strait jacket on defence spending so we have to hope for quality rather than quantity. And over the 6 days I was there I was well satisfied (with one or two exceptions of which more in later posts).
for the rest of the story of the display teams, read on!
As a member of the Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo, a very welcome addition to the (already very good package) was the opportunity to walk along the flightline on Thursday evening. The opportunity to have the flightline almost to ourselves in superb light was too good to resist. A very big thanks to all the FRIAT team for their hard work in arranging it. I hope it can be a regular part of the package
This first part of my review will concentrate on the many display teams that were included in the flying display. Varying from small piston engined trainers to historic jets they certainly added colour and variety to the programme.
Belgium – Red Devils, a welcome return.
Only recently reformed on the SF260, they made a welcome return to RIAT. There last appearance had been on the Fouga Magister jet trainer so the display has slowed down a bit. Nonetheless they produced a very nice display in difficult conditions.
Italy – Frecce Tricolori, Forza Italia.
The Frecce were as ever excellent. Their display has changed little over the years, but the addition of the Italian National Anthem during take off is a nice touch. Their Saturday afternoon display was bathed in evening sunlight and they took full advantage of the conditions to put on a superb show.
Jordan – Royal Jordanian Falcons, middle eastern flair.
Its always nice to see the Royal Jordanian Falcons on the display. They may not be the most exciting, but in RIAT’s Anniversary Year it would have been remiss not to include them in the display. It may not be the most dynamic display but its always a well flown one. They are as much a part of RIAT as the American Burgers in the Park & View.
Team Viper – Honouring Hunters
As part of the Hunter celebrations for its 60th Anniversary, Team Viper flew their display as well as adding a couple of additional aircraft for a 6 ship flypast. A sky full of Hunters, that’ll do me!
Saudi Arabia – The Saudi Hawks, green arrows?
Having wanted to see them for a number of years I was extremely happy when they are added to the flying display. The RSAF team put on a nice display, obvious comparisons to the Red Arrows being somewhat unfair as they are relative newcomers on the air display circuit. I thoroughly enjoyed the display, but it would be nice to see more green smoke. You can tell they have help from the Red Arrows as, on the radio, they sound very similar.
The Red Arrows – brilliant as ever.
They flew an almost full display on Saturday and a flat one on Sunday. Their ability to change their display between full flat and rolling plus the fact that the display itself changes year on year gives them the edge over the other teams. But its close (and its not really a competition anyway).
The Breitling teams
The Air Tattoo was graced with not one but two teams sponsored by their long time supporters from the Breitling Watch company of Switzerland. The have sponsored the L39 Jet Team from France from a number of years. Last year they began sponsorship of the Wingwalking team from Aerosuperbatics. Breitling have been a long term sponsor of RIAT, the L39 equipped Breitling Jet Team have their beginnings in the old PC7 Martini Team from the 1980s and the Wingwalkers hark back to the Crunchie Flying Circus from a similar time and for a number of years they opened the show. This time for the 40th Anniversary of RIAT they closed it in superb style.
Its not often (if ever) that a biplane and jet team have flown together at an airshow. While they werent formating on each other they did appear in the same sky in all their synchronised glory. Add to that, the first 4 ship wingwalking display under Breitling sponsorship and it was a fun half hour to close the show. Added entertainment was the french commentator for the jet team, his work was unique!
And thats part one of my RIAT review. It was a shame that the Spanish Team Aguila couldnt display because of the weather as they put on a polished display that belies the capabilities of the aircraft. All in all I think there were maybe two too many teams, but dont ask me which ones to cut as I enjoyed them all.
More from RIAT will follow soon….