RIAT 2011 Part 2 – Tigers and Hogs
For the second installment of my RIAT blog I shall concentrate on some spectacularly painted aircraft and one “Ugly but well hung” visitor from the USAF.
It was a Tiger Meet year so RIAT tried to persuade as many of the Tiger Squadrons to attend as possible with their specially painted jets, with some success. They were also lucky enough to be allocated a display from the USAF A-10 West Demo Team. Read on….
All Hail the Hog!
Its been a few years since the A-10 from the USAF has displayed at RIAT. When they were based in the UK they were regular participants at UK air shows. Since the end of the Cold War the policy of providing display teams in Europe has ended and if we are to see one over here then it will be one of the U.S. based demo teams using local aircraft.So this year we were lucky to have the Air Combat Command A-10 West Demo Team In this case the aircraft came from 81st Fighter Sqn of the 52nd Fighter Wing based at Spangdahlem in Germany.
It was a stunning display. The first practice on the Wednesday before the show ended with the aircraft swooping down over the park and view seemingly using those on the front row (including me) as targets. It may have been the years of not seeing a display that gave me the impression that the jinking manoeuvres at the end of each simulated firing run seemed a lot more punchy than in the past.
As the aircraft was borrowed this presented the team with a problem that affected the displays over the weekend. The aircraft they normally use are allocated to them for use throughout the season. They are standard A-10Cs however they do have some modifications to the flight control software to allow the aircraft to pull the high G’s during the show. These are standard combat mods but they werent available on the aircraft they borrowed for the weekend. This meant that the Stability Augmentation System on the aircraft kept “tripping out” during the displays. This caused a delay to the practice on Friday (while the pilot sorted it out in the air) and meant that the public display on Saturday had to be cut short. Unfortunately it tripped again after one pass and the pilot couldnt fix it in the air in time to complete his slot. This was a shame as it was the best weather of the week. The display was flown in its entirety on Sunday, but to my mind it was flown in a gentler way (bear in mind this is relative, it was still good) to enable the display to be completed without the issues re-occuring.
The aircraft themselves were definitely “used” in appearance and to my mind they were all the better for it, after all the aircraft could have been in operational use just weeks before the show. Not for RIAT the chrome barreled perfect display jets. All in all a superb and very welcome display.
The NATO Tiger Association had held their 50th Anniversary event at Cambrai-Epinoy Air Base, France in May of 2011. RIAT had invited as many of the specially painted aircraft as possible to also attend an informal meet at RAF Fairford. Many of the schemes are shot lived but RIAT was lucky in attracting a number of the aircraft to the show, including one solo jet display in the flying display programme.
The Tiger Meet itself takes the form of a self contained exercise and as such means that many more aircraft and Squadrons are able to attend this event than would be able to travel to an Air Show with not exercise element. That said RIAT did well with what was on show. They also managed to attract the Tiger Schemed but privately owned Hunter from Switzerland
It also has to be said that the Air Tattoo excelled themselves by parking the aircraft in front of the trees at the Western end of the airfield. A superb clutter free backdrop of which full advantage was taken during the superb Thursday evening flightline walk which was part of the FRIAT package. Anyway here are the Tigers!
Belgian Air Force F-16A MLU of 31Sm
French Air Force Mirage 2000 of EC01.012
Austrian Air Force SAAB 105 of 1 JTS. Flying Tiger!
German Air Force Tornados IDS and ECR of AG51 and JG32
Hunter Flying Group Hunter T.68 HB-RVV/J4206, honorary member
A very big thanks to all the Squadrons who made the effort to bring the special coloured aircraft to the show and a very big thank you to the groundcrew from the A-10 demo team who too the trouble to explain their issues to me.
There are many more shots to come from RIAT in future blogs.