Old Timers

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RIAT, Shut­tle­worth, Oshkosh, and news of other dis­plays and events

De­spite the ef­forts of the weather to put a damper on this year’s Royal In­ter­na­tional Air Tat­too held at RAF Fair­ford over three days 14-16 July, a record crowd of 160,000 peo­ple en­joyed ex­cit­ing fly­ing demon­stra­tions, an ex­ten­sive static dis­play of over 115 air­craft and a wide va­ri­ety of ground at­trac­tions. In to­tal, 246 air­craft took part in the Air Tat­too from 32 air arms rep­re­sent­ing 26 na­tions, mak­ing it by far the most sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary air­show this year.

Ap­pro­pri­ately, as Fair­ford is a US for­ward op­er­at­ing base, one of the prin­ci­pal themes of RIAT 2017 was the 70th an­niver­sary of the US Air Force. To sup­port this, the USAF Thun­der­birds team dis­played its F-16 Fight­ing Fal­cons over the three days and were joined on the Fri­day by the Red Ar­rows for a colour­ful joint fly­past to launch the air­show. Also spe­cially flown over the At­lantic to ap­pear at Fair­ford was the for­mi­da­ble F-22A Rap­tor flown as last year by Maj Daniel ‘Rock’ Dick­in­son. He paired with P-51D Mus­tang Fre­n­esi, spe­cially trans­ported from Texas by owner Dan Fried­kin for a ‘Her­itage Flight’ rou­tine on Sun­day. Uk-based B-17 Fly­ing Fortress Sally B and Peter Te­ich­man’s P-51D Mus­tang Tall in the Sad­dle rep­re­sented the for­ma­tive US Army Air Force years. Fly­pasts by cur­rent USAF Europe types: a KC-135R Stra­totanker, C-130J Her­cules, three Ea­gles (two F-15CS and an F-15E) and two F-16C Fight­ing Fal­cons were well re­ceived as was the

short solo dis­play by a CV-22B Osprey from RAF Milden­hall. On the fi­nal day a sur­prise fly­past by a B-2A Spirit, one of a pair tak­ing part in a 23-hour transat­lantic ‘Global Power’ train­ing mis­sion from White­man AFB in Mis­souri, wowed the crowd. It was es­corted by two F-15C Ea­gles for its two ‘top­side’ passes.

Other high­lights of the fly­ing dis­play can be judged from the list of awards made at the Sun­day night hangar party. These in­cluded the Ukrainian AF Su-27 ‘Flanker’, French AF Rafale C, Slove­nian AF Pi­la­tus PC-9M, RAF Ty­phoon FGR4, Czech AF JAS 39C Gripen and Ital­ian AF A-200A Tor­nado. There was some dis­ap­point­ment that the RAF BBMF did not re­ceive an award for its 60th an­niver­sary ‘Thomp­son For­ma­tion’ that in­cluded Hur­ri­cane LF363 and Spit­fire PS915 that were with the His­toric Air­craft Flight at Big­gin Hill in 1957. Fur­ther ac­claimed per­form­ers in­cluded the French Air Force’s Couteau Delta team fly­ing two Mi­rage 2000Ds; in­cred­i­ble ‘aer­o­batic’ rou­tines from the Ital­ian AF C-27J Spar­tan and an Air­bus Space and De­fence-op­er­ated A400M. The UK Army Air Corps At­tack He­li­copter Dis­play Team with its solo Apache dis­play con­cluded its role demo with a spec­tac­u­lar ‘wall of fire’.

Among the 115 air­craft in the static park were a USAF U-2S spy-plane, B-1B Lancer and a B-52H Strato­fortress. New­com­ers to RIAT were a Royal Aus­tralian Air Force E-7A Wed­getail and a Royal Cana­dian Air Force CH-147F Chi­nook which had been air­lifted from Canada in a Boe­ing CC-177 Globe­mas­ter. This was not the only big trans­port air­craft on show as the Ukrainian Il-76, Ja­panese KC-767 and a gag­gle of Her­cules were also present, with a colour­ful Pak­istan AF C-130E and a very rare Is­raeli AF C-130J amongst them. Sev­eral jets made their last ap­pear­ances at the show. The Gulf War ‘pink’ Tor­nado GR4 ZG750 was re­tired the fol­low­ing week and it is un­likely that the Greek F-4E Phan­toms will make a re­turn visit to Fair­ford.

The cus­tom­ary BAE Sys­tems Her­itage dis­play pre­sented BAC Strike­mas­ter G-SOAF, Hur­ri­cane I R4118 and, mak­ing its pub­lic de­but, Airco DH9 E8894. Close to mak­ing its first flight, the fully re­stored vin­tage bomber was brought to Fair­ford by road from Retrotec’s work­shop in East Sus­sex and was taken to Dux­ford after the show for fi­nal work by its own­ers, the His­toric Air­craft Col­lec­tion. Sum­ming up RIAT 2017, RAFCTE Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Andy Arm­strong said: “Thanks to my team which in­cludes an in­cred­i­ble army of over 2,000 vol­un­teers, we staged a safe and thor­oughly en­ter­tain­ing event that UK plc and the world of avi­a­tion can be proud of.”

The USAF Thun­der­birds’ F-16C and D Fight­ing Fal­cons were joined by the Red Ar­rows for a joint fly­past as RIAT cel­e­brated the USAF’S 70th an­niver­sary

Above and right: 1 FW, Langley AFB’S Ma­jor Dan ‘Rock’ Dick­in­son’s F-22A Rap­tor dis­play was awarded the Paul Bowen Tro­phy for the best jet demon­stra­tion, and he paired with Dan Fried­kin’s P-51D Mus­tang Fre­n­esi for a USAF Her­itage Flight rou­tine

F-15C lends scale to the B-2A fly­ing over Fair­ford Above: the first Ukrainian Sukhoi SU-27P ‘Flanker’ to fly at RIAT for eigh­teen years won the ‘As The Crow Flies’ tro­phy for best over­all fly­ing demon­stra­tion

Static de­but for the His­toric Air­craft Col­lec­tion’s re­stored Airco DH9, soon to make its first flight

Above: loops, steep wing-overs and bar­rel rolls were all part of the Ital­ian AF C-27J Spar­tan’s per­for­mance

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