RIAT 2006 Index

Part One : The Show

Part Two: Rapid Global Effect

Part Three: Fairford Fusion

Part Four: The Flying Display




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RIAT's Airbourne Epic

Global Power
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UK Amred Forces
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International Friendly
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Spanish Flair
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The main focus for any airshow is it's air display. RIAT's well known for it's unique eight hour spectaculars. In these days where it's cost that dictates the flying content as much as they imagination of the flying display director just how how did 2006's display stack up? Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports from the Fairford crowdline. All Photography copyright of the Author.

Royal Performers
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Civil Support
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Swiss Precision
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Those Flypasts

Sunday's flying display saw the specially marked VC-10 from nearby RAF Brize Norton formation with the Red Arrows to celebrate the types 40th year of RAF Service

Also seen only on the Sunday was a joint flypast by the Spanish Team Aguila and a Spanish Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon

Both show days saw this formation of the Patrouille Suisse and the Pilatus PC-21 as part of Pilatus' promotion of the new traineraircraft at RIAT

So you've got through the car park, got through the secuirty checks and raced to the crowdline - the anticipation of a RIAT flying display is always high. This year, the particpants looked spectacular on paper and this was more the most highly anticipated display for some years though some may say it wasn't without it's weaknesses.

The show started on both days with the PC-7 Turbotrainer from the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Soon after we had a PC-9M from the Slovenian Air Force and Pilatus' new PC-21. Surely a great advert for Pilatus products and the start perhaps of little theme of military trainer types just just sort of happened for RIAT rather than being planned. Also appearing throughout the day were the obligitory RAF Hawk T1 display from 208 Squadron, Alan Wade in the T-67 Firefly and the Aermacchi M346 operating from the Farnborough Airshow. Though a single seat Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (hence the name "ALCA") the Czech Air Force L-159 ALCA was a welcome performer at the show and fitted into this theme thanks largely due to the it's development from the L-39/59 family.

The ALCA was one of two acts that marked the return of the Czech Republic to RIAT, something that's very welcome as in the early 1990's thay had been strong supporters and provided RIAT with it's first taste of the MiG-29. The second act, and only international rotary participant in the flying was the Mil Mi-24V Hind, a type in itself hadn't been seen at RIAT for sometime. The example was in dramatic "tiger" markings and has been a welcome performer at a number of the European shows over the summer. Further Rotary participantion came from the UK armed forces. The Army Air Corps sent the Blue Eagles and The Army Air Corps Historic Aircraft Flight to RIAT. HAF were actually down on numbers because of an unlucky string of unserviceability and were only able to display the Beaver, Scout and Alouette II. The RAF had their Merlin HC3 present for both days of the show. Their collegues from the Chinook force faced a rather different weekend. Soon after arriving they were called back to their base, RAF Odiham, because of a deployment concerned with the unrest in the Middle East. The team worked really hard to get back to Fairford as soon as they could, sadly missing the deadline to appear in Saturday's display. They did at least make an appearance on the Sunday. However, they were all out shone by perhaps the oddest aircraft yet to appear at RIAT, the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor displayed by the US Marine Corps and Boeing. The MV-22Bs that have come to the UK are in a experiment light weight paint scheme which looks silver in bright light. Though the display was short it did give the crowd a great chance to see this groundbreaking machine close up.

From that other small airshow....

Some of the flying display acts made the short trip down to Fairford from their appearances at the Farnborough International Airshow. Star of the Farnborough visitors was the MiG-29M-OVT with it's thrust vectoring aerobatics which proved so memorable it won two awards (see below.) Boeing sent two aircraft to the show. Ricardo Traven was all to pleased to return to Fairford with his display in the F/A-18F Super Hornet. Joining him were his collegues from Being with the MV-22B Osprey. RIAT witnessed the first public display of the MV-22B and Tiltrotor technology outide of the USA and the Paris Airshow - something the organisers are very proud of.  From Europe came two trainers. From Italy, the Aermacchi M346 displayed over Fairford while Pilatus gave RIAT an exclusive flying display by the PC-21 which was only on static display at Farnborough. Also making a unique flying appearance on the Sunday at RIAT was Omega Air's KDC-10 tanker leaving the RIAT static display to join the static display at Farnborough.

Many of the RAF display teams were present for the show. It was another interesting weekend for the Tornado GR4 Crew who seem to have some bad luck with servicability. Friday saw at least two attempts aborted to get to Farnborough for a validation. Thankfully, they made appearances on both days.

Star performer from the RAF however, was the Canberra PR9 from No 39(1PRU) Squadron flown by Sqn Ldr Terry Cairns. The agility and spritelyness of the Canberra PR9 always surprises and Sqn Ldr Cairns shows this off to great effect. This was of course the last appearance of the type at a public airshow before it will be retired at the end of July. A sad occasions but it has gone out in some style. Another aircraft celebrating was the VC-10 from Brize Norton. 40 years in to it's service with the RAF it marked the event with a solo appearance on Saturday and in formation with the Red Arrows on the Sunday.

With so many defence contractors sponsoring the display it's unsurprising to see a few of these companies display their wares at the show. Serco and Cobham group once again displayed their mixed formation of FRA Falcon 20ECMs and Hawk T1s from FRADU. Serco also displayed a pair of Jetstream T2s operated by 750NAS at RNAS Culdrose

Always one of the major pulls of a RIAT flying display is the amount of overseas participants it attracts. The French Army clearly love RIAT as we saw yet another display by the TBM-700 which certainly mark the quiet before the storm. 2006 must have been the first year that his collegues from the French Air Force haven't won an award for the Mirage 2000B display. It wasn't that the display was good enough to win, but the sheer quality of the competition. Another RIAT regular is the F-16AM Fighting Falcon from the Royal Netherlands Air Force. It seems the impact of the flare-firing Apache last year impressed itself onto the F-16 crew who duly fired two salvos of flares on Saturday during their display. Sadly, it seems that's all they had as Sunday's display was flare-less!!!

Making it's debut at the show was the Spanish Air Force Eurofighter C.16 Typhoon from ALA11 at Moron. This was one the first displays of Spanish and the first visit by one of the partner nation's examples for a flying display in the UK. it may not have been as polished as the display given by Sqn Ldr Matt Elliot in the RAF Typhoon T1A whose in his second season, but it was nevertheless a welcome addition to the flying program, particularly in formation with the Spanish Nation Team Patrulla Aguila. More familiar fast jets came in the form of the Swiss F/A-18C Hornet and the Swedish JAS39A Gripen, both of which picked up awards for their displays. The Swiss hornet inparticular impressed as it has been upgraded with the same Flight Control System as the F/A-18F Super Hornet as flown by Boeing Test Pilot Ricardo Traven - dare we say it that the Swiss Legacy Hornet display was superior to that it's bigger brother!!!

US Heavy metal is also exlclusively confined to appearance at RIAT. Regular performers are the B-52H Stratofortress and B-1B Lancer who appearances this year seemed even more pathetic than previous years, the B-1B making a solitary pass on Saturday and two on Sunday, while the B-52 could only manage to get in the air on Saturday. Much better was the West Coast F-15C Eagle Demostartion team. Their display seems to have much more impact than previous years and it's always good to see Ed Shipley flying the Fighter Collections P-51D Mustang with the F-15 for the Heritage Flight, something we should even more of next year!!

As ever, there were a few civilian and historic items mixed in with the military heavy metal. The 70th Anniversary of the Spitfire was marked in a low key way by the Rolls Royce Spitfire PR19. Regulars to the tattoo are the Royal Jordanian Falcons with their quartet on Extras while it was good to welcome back the Utterly Butterly Barnstormers back to Fairford after a few years absence.

The flying display was full of class acts, and content wise was one of the best seen at recent air tattoos. There was something to interest everyone and much of it exclusive to RIAT. The one area of worry was the amount of gaps. The whole flying dislay lacked a degree of flow and on Sunday the momentum stopped for a while. We think there's far too many VIP movements during the show using the runway. It's perhaps time for RIAT to look at setting up a helicopter system rather the use business jets using a heliport that wouldn't affect the display. This should not however take anything away from the quality of the flying display content.  As ever there were awards deemed to be the best witnessed over the weekend and they were all well deserved.

Paul Bowen Best Solo Jet Display Trophy:

 Captain Michael Reiner of the Swiss Air Force Fliegerstaffel 11 in a F/A-18C Hornet

Lockheed Martin Cannestra Trophy (Best Overseas Flying Demonstration)

Captain Henric Holm in the SAAB Gripen of F7 Wing, Swedish Air Force

Steedman Display Sword (Best Flying Demonstration by UK participant)

Squadron Leader Matt Elliott in the Eurofighter Typhoon of 29 Squadron Royal Air Force.

Sir Douglas Bader Trophy (Best Individual Flying Demonstration)

Captain Alan Wade in a Slingsby Firefly of the Defence Elementary Flying Training School.

King Hussein Memorial Sword for best overall display, presented by Prince Faisal of Jordan and the As The Crow Flies Trophy presented by Friends of RIAT for the best overall flying demonstration

MiG-29M, MiG Corporation, Pavel Vlasov and Mikhail Belyaev

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