Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden
huskyteer

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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.

reds2

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.

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.

mirage2

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:

herc

(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.

bbmf2
Tags: planes
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