Royal International Air Tattoo

The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the world's largest military air show, held annually over the third weekend in July, usually at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom in support of The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust. The show usually attracts a total of 150,000 to 200,000 spectators on both days.


The Air Tattoo started in 1971 as an air show to support the Royal Air Force Association held at North Weald, Essex. It outgrew the small airfield and the show was moved to the United States Air Force operated Air Force Base of RAF Greenham Common near Newbury, Berkshire in 1973. The Air Tattoo was held at Greenham Common in 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981 and 1983. When the airfield was selected as a Ground Launched Cruise Missiles base, a new venue was found at RAF Fairford. [cite web|title=Royal Air Force charitable trust enterprises|url=|accessdate=2008-07-13]

* The first Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford was held in 1985. It became an annual show from 1993. Due to runway repairs at RAF Fairford the show temporary moved to RAF Cottesmore, Rutland in 2000 and 2001.

* In 1996 the show was awarded a Royal warrant to use the prefix "Royal" and it therefore became the current Royal International Air Tattoo.

* In 2003 the air show was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest military air show ever, with an attendance of 535 aircraft.

* In 2006 around 300 aircraft from 24 countries were on display.

The shows have had a number of air show firsts, including the first display and landing of the then top secret stealth aircraft B-2A Spirit bomber outside of the United States of America during the 1997 "50 Years of the USAF" anniversary theme and in 2008 the first appearance of the state of the art F-22 Raptor in Europe.

Although the show is a showcase for the world's military, it has became an important precursor to the Farnborough Airshow held every even years in the following week. It allows the military aerospace industry to display and present itself outside of the commercial pressures of the Farnborough show.

2008 Cancellation

The 2008 airshow was to feature two themes, the "90th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force" and "Global Engagement". The United States Air Force Air Combat Command's F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team had made the first trans-Atlantic flight for the new stealth aircraft to participate in the 2008 Royal International Air Tattoo. [cite web| url= |title=VIDEO - RIAT 2008: F-22 display follows 'flawless' first transatlantic crossing |date=2008-07-12|accessdate=2008-07-13] On Friday July 10th, 2008, the day before the air show opened to the public, HM The Queen Elizabeth II presented under harsh weather conditions new colors to the RAF and RAF Regiment in front of selected guests and VIPs. Following a week of heavy rainfall this made the already waterlogged car parks and some portion of the apron unusable. Safety concerns for the hundreds of thousands of expected visitors led the organizers to a last minute cancellation of the RIAT for the first time in the show history. [cite web|title=Second day of air show cancelled| url= |date=2008-07-12|accessdate=2008-07-13]

RIAT 2009

The two main themes for RIAT 2009 have been announced as "Tigers Eye '09" and the 60th anniversary of NATO.

The 1993 MiG-29 accident

In 1993 two Mig-29s of the Russian Air Force collided in mid-air and crashed away from the public. No one was hurt on the ground. [ [ Photos: Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29S (9-13S) Aircraft Pictures | ] ] After having ejected, the two pilots landed safely. [ [ Military Aviation ] ] Investigators later determined that a pilot error was the cause, after one pilot did a reverse loop and disappeared into the clouds, the other one lost sight of his wingman and aborted the routine.


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Photos from RIAT 2007]
* [ BBC features on the Royal International Air Tattoo, past and present]
* [ Michael Pead :: Photos of the Fairford Airshow]
* [ RIAT 2006 photo set]

Reviews of Previous RIATs

* [ Review of RIAT 2007 -]
* [ Review of RIAT 2007 -]
* [ Review of RIAT 2007 -]
* [ Review of RIAT 2006 -]
* [ Review of RIAT 2006 -]
* [ Review of RIAT 2006 -]
* [ Review of RIAT 2005 -]
* [ Review of RIAT 2005 -]
* [ Review of RIAT 2005 -]

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