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Husky Airways

Thunderbirds Are Go

I spent my weekend at the Royal International Air Tattoo, thrilling to the sight and sound of fast jets and slow props.

This really is the world's finest air show, representing the cream of planes and pilots from the cutting edge of technology to rare old warbirds.

Saturday morning was grey and drizzly, but as we parked the bikes a howling roar announced the takeoff of a Saab Gripen from the Czech 211 Squadron, which threw itself around the sky for our delight.

For the next hour, aircraft took off, had a nose around, thought better of it, and landed again. During this period I met up with the usual RIAT suspects, wardy and silverwindblade, and we settled in.

The weather picked up around lunchtime, although the ceiling remained low. Display teams fly a 'flat' programme when clouds prevent the full version, and this is what we were treated to.

The Red Arrows remain the best team in the world, though I also enjoyed Patrouille Suisse and a rare appearance by the US Thunderbirds.


One of the 2017 themes was the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force, and their presence included the past in the shape of a P-51 Mustang flying together with the future represented by an F-22 Raptor.


The always brilliant Spartan did a barrel roll; a pretty impressive feat for something of its size, and I wouldn't have liked being a passenger for it.

My top picks for the year, though, were both French: the smartly-painted solo Rafale, and the stunning Mirage 2000D pair.


As well as the display in the air, there's a static park where you can look at aircraft from all over the world and chat to the crews. This year, continuing the American theme, the mighty B-52 visited, as well as a U-2 spy plane.

The first thing I did on Sunday was to jump out of the back of a Hercules. It was on the ground, with a mattress under it, but this didn't stop me enjoying a small private Living Daylights moment:


(It was meant for kids really.)

(I did it twice.)

A friend and his little girl were attending - her first air show! - and we hung out for a while before they started the long bus and train journey home.

The highlight of Sunday's air display was a surprise appearance by the B-2 Spirit bomber, which had, oh, just popped over from the States, and was flying back without stopping.

Towards the end of the flying, the rain began again, and was on and off all the way home. But I'd had a fantastic weekend.



The Mustang and F-22 shot reminded me of the Concorde and Spitfires flypast we were treated to at Biggin Hill many years ago.

Did they say where the extra Spitfires came from? One's in rather unusual very shiny bare metal livery.

Glad the weather wasn't too grim.
I've seen a Spitfire/Eurofighter Typhoon display; the Typhoon was almost at stalling speed while the Spit was going flat out :)

I think the extras belong to the BBMF, but they don't usually display the entire collection at once.
Ah, right, that would fit with them flying in close formation, too.

I remember a U2 visiting Biggin Hill once, back when I worked at Holwood House. It turned base to final right over the office, and I was surprised how big it was.

A barrel role, done properly, should be neither high-G nor negative-G, and I expect you will be able to find (somewhere on the Net) video of a Boeing 707 doing one, maybe even with a glass of water on the windscreen's sill...
I think I have seen that video!

In the days when I went to RIAT with my dad, we'd get the package that allowed you to watch the practice on Friday and also stick around on Monday to see things fly home. This lets you catch stuff that's on static display over the weekend, like the U-2 and B-52, get airborne. Maybe I should start doing that again...
The always brilliant Spartan did a barrel roll

There'll never be a time when hearing that will not make me think of this remix of the Star Fox BGM. :)

Interesting that the U-2 was there — shame you don't also get to see the current crop of spy planes, eh?

(It was meant for kids really.)

(I did it twice.)

Excellent. :D
I never got into Starfox, not owning the right console, but it's obviously something I would enjoy!

I do love the U-2; it's such a basic design, essentially an aircraft with glider wings, but it still works so well. But yes, what else have they got up their sleeves over there??
Ah, that was last weekend too? Poop! That seemed to wind up such a confluence of events, all of which I had to forego, getting ready for Monday. Still, there'll be other RIATs. ^_^

The Mirages really are quite something to behold, ne? They're definitely amongst my favorite shots from 2015.

The thing to do, of course, would've been to have someone capture you jumping out of the Hercules, and then Potatoshop out everything but you and the aircraft. =:) Actually, come to that, have you ever gone skydiving? I haven't, but a friend in the Bay highly recommends the experience. ^_^;
Ha! It wouldn't be too hard to chop the plane out, now that you mention it.

I have never done any sort of jumping out of an aircraft activity. Chances are I'd be more interesting in the plane than the jump, as it seems you get to go in some interesting ones!