Treasures of the Orient – RIAT 2012 part 1
This Years Royal International Air Tattoo was a classic, in fact it was the best this century. The ladies and Gentlemen at Douglas Bader House excelled themselves, gone were the Z-list “singers” and other side shows that distracted from the prime reason for the event. Instead it was back to basics and what we had, was a superb air show.
Aided considerably by this being a Farnborough year, in attendance this year were aircraft from no less than 3 nations that were new to the event, in this first blog I have a look at the aircraft from two of those nations. Japan and firstly Korea.
Flying the KAI T-50B Golden Eagle 2 seat trainer, the Korean Air Force Demonstration Team the Black Eagles too the show by storm. They made friends wherever they went and the flying display by the team was in my opinion easily the best at the show. This is a selection of the shots taken over the weekend of the show, including their display in appalling conditions on Friday. I was fortunate enough to get up close and personal to the team as they too to their jets on the Thursday before the show. The group crews were run by a gentleman who wore a wide brimmed hat a patrolled up and down the flightline twirling his umbrella, he was clearly the master of all things Korean that he surveyed. The pilots when they arrived were happy to pose for photographs (well they are pilots) as I wandered amongst them snapping away, it was great fun.
Then it was off to the runway for their display. It was exceptional, they have taken the best bits from the worlds display teams and flown them very precisely with snappy formation changes. There is always something going on, unlike some display team that have to disappear and change formation before flying back past the crowd (the USAF Thunderbirds being particularly poor in this respect), the music they played during the commentary added to the display. Any team that uses AC/DC – Highway to Hell and Joe Satriani – Surfing with the Alien gets my vote!
I have tried to put the pictures in order the formations were flown, but the displays were flexible and differed slightly each time I saw it (usually for the weather). They did however fly one very original manoeuvre which was a big hit with the crowds which I describe later. For more details on their display have a look on their Wiki page
Now, when the weather permitted, they flew their signature manoeuvre. Two aircraft looped and on the journey back down one pulled tighter than the other so that he cut across the circle and they created the Taeguk, the national flag of Korea, in the sky. Very original this drew gasps and applause from the crowd each time it was flown. If the Red Arrows tried that with the Union Flag someone is bound to complain that its upside down! My two shots here don’t do it justice, however the second shows the finish of the skywriting when the main formation loop through the circle.
It was then time for the traditional break for landing then taxy back to the stand. Throughout the weekend the Koreans made friends wherever they went, it was a major logistical exercise for them to come, I for one think it was worthwhile and I hope they are back soon.
For years, if anyone asked me which nation would you like to come to RIAT I would answer Japan. Well sometimes the magic genie makes your wish come true and this year RIAT was graced by the presence of a Boeing KC-767J from the 404 Hikotai of the JASDF. Deployments of Japanese aircraft outside of their own country are extremely rare, deployments halfway round the world are rarer still! They were very welcome and expressed a desire to come back, I really hope they do.
More blogs from RIAT will follow if you want to see them.