! I took advantage of a two-day ticket offer for the Royal International Air Tattoo this year, because RIAT is big
. With Saturday spent mainly looking at the sky and Sunday spent mainly walking around looking at the static display and chatting to pilots, I covered maybe 90% of the things I would have wanted to see, and that's leaving out all the stuff I was less bothered by.
On Friday after work I battled a congested M25, M4 and A417, then followed a twin-engined bizjet in to Gloucester Airport, where I was meeting Howard at the Aviator
pub. Nice decor, slightly eccentric food, but plentiful and quick to arrive. Refreshed, we headed for Cheltenham, our hotel, and an early start the next day.
Progress along the entry queue was slow, but at least we were moving, unlike the cars. We were on the airfield shortly before 10, as the Spanish display team was performing. We walked through a Chinook and admired the Japanese Kawasaki P-1
, with the trophy it had won for second place in the Concours d'Elegance proudly displayed in front of the nosewheel, before joining silverwindblade
, who had established base camp on the crowdline.
Nobody moved much after this beyond the odd shopping/loos/ice cream foray, because there was non-stop entertainment in the sky. Fast jets were well represented, with Belgian and Hellenic F-16s, a brace of Mirage 2000s, a Mig-29 and, of course, the Eurofighter Typhoon.
This year is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, commemorated by a flight of 15 aircraft including Spits, Hurries, Messerschmitt 109s and a beautifully elegant Bristol Blenheim, restored to flying condition just in time.
It would be remiss of me not to mention Vulcan XH558, now well into its final display season. A magnificant solo display and a flypast with the Red Arrows made a fitting sendoff. Finally, another Typhoon specially painted in Battle of Britain colours, and flying with a Spitfire.
Meanwhile, the weather forecast for Sunday had changed from 'rain all day' to 'heatwave', much to my relief. It was grey and windy when we arrived, with occasional showers of drizzle, but it wasn't enough to stop the flying.
We caught the Eurofighter Typhoon display while queuing to look round the amazing Osprey and chat to its enthusiastic crew. I admired both their plane and their Spotify playlist, and bought a sticker to prettify my bike.
I always enjoy the bazaar aspect of the static park, where aircrews flog squadron T-shirts and mugs to the punters. I bought some small items and was given one or two freebies, including a tiny pair of clogs branded ROYAL NETHERLANDS AIR FORCE.
By lunchtime I'd switched from sweatshirt mode to shorts and sunhat. By 3pm we had traversed the entire length of the airshow, and were more than ready to sit down and watch the Vulcan/Red Arrows thing again.
We left shortly before six, and I struggled with more slow traffic all the way home to arrive after nine.