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Dogfight [by the_gneech]

Spirit in the Sky

It was a stroke of luck that I was attending the Royal International Air Tattoo on Friday and Saturday, rather than my usual Saturday and Sunday, so I was able to fit Paul Simon into my weekend too.

I'd located a nice AirBnB in a converted railway carriage - tiny, but with everything we needed, including a firepit outside. The owners were lovely, even lending me a hat so I wouldn't burn to a crisp (I had somehow left mine at home; my flatmate later informed me she'd found it in the bathroom).

Another stroke of luck was finding out that a plane-minded furry friend, Dai Cymru, would be attending on Friday.

This is the RAF's centenary year, and there was plenty on display to celebrate it: the Red Arrows drawing a 100 in the sky, a special formation from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a diamond nine of Eurofighter Typhoons and, great favourites of mine, the Great War Display Team.





It was also 617 (Dambuster) Squadron's 75th anniversary. They were honoured with a flypast showcasing the past, present and future of the squadron: a Lancaster, Tornado and F-35 Lightning.



Other national displays included the Spanish Patrulla Aguila, the Italian Frecce Tricolori and the Swiss PC-7 team:

"Swiss pilots in Swiss-built aircraft present to you the Swiss cross with Swiss precision."

To which Dai shouted "Do a Swiss roll!"



Perhaps my favourite item was a gorgeous pair of Vampires operated by the Norwegian Historic Flight. One Vampire is a rare sight; two together is almost unheard of, and, as the commentator said, recalled postwar air displays at RAF Hendon.



There was a heavy downpour in the afternoon as I was walking round the aircraft parked on the ground. A member of the Japanese Air Force, dressed very smartly in a long black uniform raincoat with insignia on the shoulder, walked over and suggested I look around inside his C-2: "It is raining." So I did that.

Shortly afterwards the rain stopped and I took my favourite photo of the weekend, of one of my favourite aircraft, the Antonov AN-2:



I started Saturday morning by walking through an AWACS, which was nice. We were lucky enough to stroll past it just as they were opening up, and climb on board with no queue.

Then we met up with the usual RIAT posse of Silverwind, wardy and co, parking ourselves a little way back from the flight line.

We'd been told that if we were lucky we might get a surprise item. This turned out to be the B-2 Spirit bomber, which made a single slow pass in all its stately and spooky glory.



Eight hours packed with aircraft shot by, and the display was closed, appropriately enough, by the Finnish.

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