RIAT 2011 Part 4 – the afterburn.

Its been a while since my last installment from the Royal International Air Tattoo so its probably about time I wrapped things up for this year.

There were several F-16 displays this year. The Turkish Air Force made a rare appearance in their anniversary year. After, so I am told, a spectacular display in their own country they flew a somewhat toned down version at RIAT. A very welcome addition to the flying display.

The Belgian Air Force display this year set new standards in F-16 display flying, even of the paintwork was “original”.

A rare treat was the Danish F16 display. I dont think I have seen a Danish flying display since the 1980’s so it was very welcome.

Moving away from General Dynamics’ finest we come to the French Air Force Rafale display. I was fortunate to see the preparations for this display close up, following the pilot through his pre-flight routine (including display walk through), the display, and the return to dispersal. It was a superb and very noisy display.

The Italian Air Force test unit the RSV supplied a Tornado IDS, always nice to see, and a quite remarkable C-27J display.

After many years away, it was initially a pleasure to see the Ukrainian Air Force return with a Flanker and Il-76.

Their manner of departure however somewhat tempered they pleasure of their visit. The IL-76 departed first and appeared to retract its undercarriage slightly before rotation. This led to a couple of burst tyres and a contaminated runway. This didnt seem to bother the Flanker who began its takeoff roll straight after. Seemingly unconcerned about the state of the runway. During his stay the crew had welcomed all and sundry aboard the aircraft to have photos taken. With this, and the risk of clutter in the cockpit in mind, it was sad to see the crew showing off by performing a slow roll at low-level. Why they thought that this was a safe and sensible course of action mystified me.

We were treated to 2 Apache displays, one from the Army Air Corps and one from the Dutch Air Force. There wasnt much to choose between them, its a shame that the Dutch were not allowed to use flares. This is something that RIAT need to fix.

The Vulcan, the aviation equivalent of a Big Issue seller. A worthwhile cause, but you just cant seem to trust it. Still, you can say what you like about it. Its still here. And that is an achievement in itself.

It always gets attention.

And finally, a flavour of the rest of the show.

And thats it for another year. A very big thanks to Steve, Dave and Chris for the help and the fun, and to Marion and the team in FRIAT.

For Marc. It wont be the same now the hat is gone.


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