Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden
huskyteer

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Hurricane, Lightning, Typhoon

...and that's just the weather.

This was the weekend of the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, the high point in my and the world's air show calendar. I headed up to Gloucestershire on Friday morning to watch the rehearsals for the weekend ahead.

I walked onto the airfield and straight into my dad's great friend Neil, a hardcore enthusiast who had come over from Australia and had a pretty miserable show of it so far, with wet weather preventing much in the way of planespotting. We made plans for dinner later and I claimed my seat in the Friends of RIAT Grandstand just as it started to tip it down with rain.

We all sat there being British, employing anoraks, golf umbrellas, waterproof trousers and bin bags in an attempt to keep everything dry. Just before 2:30 the rain stopped and the 90-aircraft flypast commemorating the RAF's 90th anniversary began.

Wow. This has to rank as one of the most awesome things I have ever seen - not just in the sphere of aviation, but ever. A phalanx of helicopters started things off, followed by wave after wave of fixed-wing craft. There go the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight! A Nimrod! Nine Eurofighter Typhoons! Last but not least, the Red Arrows draped their signature red, white and blue smoke across the sky as they passed.

The Great War Display Team, always a favourite of mine, dropped by for a spot of choreographed Boche-bashing. Then people started shouting "Hooray!" and standing up, and it was the Queen, in a bright pink hat, walking back to her helicopter!

Seconds after her takeoff it belted down with rain again. God bless you, Ma'am, and your uncanny control over the weather!

After the Gripen's and Raptor's displays and several further downpours I decided enough was enough. Getting my bike out of the muddy car park required the assistance of one of the security guys, and cars were spinning their wheels as they ploughed towards the exit...

On Saturday morning I woke up terribly early and set off for the airfield, congratulating myself on my prompt start and selection of traffic-free back roads. Why, there were no queues at all!

I got nearly as far as Fairford village itself before seeing an 'Airshow Cancelled' sign and having it confirmed by a policeman at the next junction. So I went back to my hotel for the cooked breakfast I'd been too early to claim beforehand.

I had a bike and the Cotswolds, so I wasn't bored, although it wasn't quite the day I'd anticipated.

With evening came the news that Sunday's show had also been cancelled due to the quagmire the car parks and airfield had become. The FRIAT enclosure would be open on Monday, but I had to be back at work then. Another night in a hotel bed, another full English, and I came home.

I bought a ticket for four days of air show, intending to see three of them, and got just one - half, really, as I didn't arrive until lunchtime on Friday. The RIAT website promises proportionate refunds, but although I would like some money back I'm worried about the huge financial hit they'll take. The need for increased security and the rising cost of aviation fuel has already put paid to many smaller shows - Bournemouth, for example, where I got hooked in the first place.

I hope RIAT can weather this year's damp squib and continue to provide the biggest, and in my opinion best, military air show in the world.
Tags: airshow
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