On Saturday the girlfriend and I got up early to attend thr Royal International Air Tattoo. It’s an air show located in the massive grounds of RAF Fairford.
It’s always popular so we got up early to attempt to miss the long traffic queues. We arrived pretty early near Fairford, about 15 minutes after the gates had just opened, but still joined a queue of traffic two miles long. It took more than another hour to get to the carpark. (Then another half hour of standing to walk through the gates). Interestingly though, we had avoided the worst of the traffic. While we sat in the queues the radio station – the show broadcasts its own – said the queue was getting longer and longer, the last estimation we heard was 7 miles long.
The first thing we did was claim a good spot between the two grandstands which I think is the best position – without paying any additional chargers – to see the ariel acrobats, it’s where the pilots usually try to position themselves. It fills up quickly though.
We took a couple of chairs (to sit on), a mat (to mark out our territory – some people will try to squeeze in to any gap), an umberalla (just in case, luckily not needed) and a picnik. Others also took windbreaks, tents, stools, even the odd gazebo…
The eight hour show kicked off with a troop of parachuters dropping out of a plane overhead and landing along the runway. I got a nice photo of that:
Then followed a show of the old and new: helicopters, jet fighters, battle of Britain, passenger planes, bombers, heavy lift carriers – I whole range of mostly military air vehicles. But some of the highlights were:
- F-22A Raptor – the best of several USAF jets on display.
- Vulcan – The cold war bomber flying again. Huge, ellagant… deadly.
- Chinnock Helicopter – a nice display as they airlifted a jeep and secured it.
- Red Arrows – and another great display by the best display team.
There’s also lots of other things to see and do while your there, but if you want to watch the flights you’re not going to have any time to see anything else, the show runs all day. If you want to see some of the other things on display then you’ll have to skip several of the shows.
Now all that’s left is the trip back home… I’m sure we’ll get out of the car park eventually…