Old Timers

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RIAT, Fly­ing Le­gends' for­ma­tions, Yeovil­ton, and EAA win­ners

The 2019 Royal In­ter­na­tional Air Tattoo (RIAT) on 20-22 July had seventy years of NATO and Air & Space as its ma­jor themes: plan­e­tar­ium shows and AAC officer-turned-as­tro­naut Ma­jor Tim Peake be­ing among the lat­ter’s at­trac­tions. Back to its short­ened Fri­day and full-length weekend fly­ing dis­play for­mats, RIAT featured 243 air­craft, was sup­ported by 36 air arms and at­tracted 170,000 vis­i­tors.

Pro­longed show­ers and ex­tremely low cloud se­verely dis­rupted Fri­day’s fly­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Satur­day and Sun­day, while mainly over­cast, proved much more fly­able. The sun shone on the event’s head­lin­ing ‘retro BOAC’ B747-400 G-BYGC (see ‘Old Timers’, Spring 2019) and RAF Red Ar­rows for­ma­tion, celebratin­g Bri­tish Airways’ cen­te­nary. The Red Ar­rows made an­other cel­e­bra­tory fly­past, its nine Hawks lead­ing the Pa­trouille de France’s eight Alpha Jets with both teams in ‘Con­corde’ for­ma­tion to mark the fifti­eth an­niver­sary of the An­glo-french su­per­sonic trans­port’s first flight. For its efforts, the RAFAT was awarded the Steed­man Dis­play Sword for the best dis­play by a UK par­tic­i­pant, as it had been in 2018. Other con­tenders in this field ranged from the RAF’S solo Chi­nook HC6, Tu­cano T1 (for the fi­nal time) and Ty­phoon FGR4, to The Blades, mak­ing their RIAT de­but with their sharp four-ex­tra for­ma­tion and solo aer­o­bat­ics, and link­ing up with A400M EC-400 for a Sun­day fly­past, mark­ing fifty years of Air­bus.

The Fin­nish AF’S mes­meris­ing F/A-18C Hor­net dis­play was an­other re­peat-win­ner, re­ceiv­ing the Sir Dou­glas Bader Tro­phy (for the best in­di­vid­ual fly­ing demon­stra­tion) as it did last year but also this time FRIAT’S As The Crow Flies Tro­phy: a dou­ble-vic­tory

for Capt Arto Uk­skoski. Other award re­cip­i­ents in­cluded the smooth Ukrainian AF SU-27P1M (best solo jet dis­play), dy­namic Swedish AF JAS 39C Gripen (best over­all fly­ing demon­stra­tion) and the Ital­ian AF’S flam­boy­ant Frecce Tri­col­ori (best fly­ing demon­stra­tion by an over­seas par­tic­i­pant).

The Span­ish Navy’s EAV-8B+ Harrier IIS crew was awarded RIAT CEO Andy Arm­strong’s Tro­phy, recog­nis­ing the me­chan­i­cal (one air­craft ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a brake fire post-ar­rival) and me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal (a solo rou­tine be­ing man­aged in Fri­day’s ap­palling weather) chal­lenges overcome ahead of well-re­ceived two-air­craft dis­plays at the weekend.

The fi­nal award, for the best liv­ery, went to the Ger­man AF’S stun­ning Eurofighte­r EF2000 30+25. Other spe­cial schemes were plen­ti­ful, pro­duc­ing a colour­ful NATO 70 static line-up. The most elab­o­rate in­cluded ‘Tiger’-marked RAF Puma HC2 XW224 and Ger­man AF Tor­nado IDS 43+25 and the Royal Dan­ish and Royal Norwegian AFS’ commemorat­ive F-16AMS. The Bel­gian AF sup­plied three fur­ther eye-catch­ing F-16s in­clud­ing its ‘Dark Fal­con’ dis­play air­craft whose joint fly­pasts, fol­lowed by Capt Ste­fan ‘Vador’ Darte’s solo se­quence, gave Satur­day’s pro­gramme a mem­o­rable start.

The first two days’ NATO fly­past was less suc­cess­ful, be­ing can­celled on Fri­day be­cause of poor weather. The NATO E-3A Sen­try pro­vided a con­so­la­tory fly-through but went un­ser­vice­able on Satur­day, leav­ing it to three RAF Ty­phoons and a sin­gle Ger­man AF EF2000, plus four F-16s (one each from orig­i­nal Euro­pean pro­gramme part­ners/ op­er­a­tors Bel­gium, Den­mark, the Nether­lands and Nor­way), joined by a very rare French AF KC-135R and three 48th FW F-15E Strike Ea­gles.

The typ­i­cally com­pre­hen­sive and di­verse static dis­play ranged from the French Army’s cam­ou­flaged SA330B Puma and SA342M Gazelle to the Qatari Emiri AF’S C-130J-30 Her­cules and C-17A Globe­mas­ter. Other large par­tic­i­pants in­cluded strik­ingly-dec­o­rated Jor­da­nian and Pak­istani Her­cules, Ukrainian Il-76 and a rather weath­ered-look­ing USAF B-52H Strato­fortress −part of a weighty USAF con­tri­bu­tion. Sub­stan­tial con­tin­gents of four or more air­craft came from the Dutch, Ger­man and Ital­ian AFS. Civil­ian air­frames of note in­clude the Mar­itime and Coast­guard Agency’s AW189, Car­a­van II and S-92, Em­braer’s de­but­ing EMB-314 Su­per Tu­cano and Cran­field Univer­sity’s smartly turned-out Bull­dog and Jet­stream.

For many en­thu­si­asts, RIAT 2019’s star par­tic­i­pants were two clas­sic com­bat jets−a one-time NATO stal­wart and its for­mer ad­ver­sary. Turk­ish AF F-4E Phan­toms had last ap­peared in 2006: ‘NATO 70’ and ‘Phan­tom 60’-marked ex­am­ples from 111 Filo at Eskise­hir ended the wait. Eigh­teen years had elapsed since the last MIG-21 dis­play in Bri­tish skies. Now, as at RIAT 2001, it was pro­vided by an up­graded Ro­ma­nian AF Lancer C, whose iconic Cold War pro­file and af­ter­burner ‘booms’ were un­for­get­table fea­tures of an­other great Air Tattoo.

'Best of Bri­tish' fly­past by 'retro BOAC' Boe­ing 747-400 G-BYBC and the Red Ar­rows

P H O T : P E T R M A R C H

Fin­nish Hor­net hauled sky­wards dur­ing its dou­ble-award­win­ning dis­play

LEFT: Hor­net dis­play pi­lot Capt Arto Uk­skoski re­ceiv­ing the DB Tro­phy from Alan Smith

Turk­ish AF ‘NATO ’70’ F-4E Phan­tom heads back home af­ter its wel­come ap­pear­ance

The el­derly but still im­pres­sive MIG-21 was well pre­sented

Cran­field Univer­sity's Bull­dog: a small but in­ter­est­ing par­tic­i­pant

Qatar Amiri Flight C-17A - a smart stand-out from the usual all-grey heavy trans­ports

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