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RIAT 2012
 
RIAT 2012 - Arrivals
 
B-52H Stratofortress - 61-0042/BD - 93 Bomber Squadron - United States Air Force   KC-767A - MM62228/14-03 - 14° Stormo - Italian Air Force   T-50B Golden Eagle - 10-0054/6 - Black Eagles Aerobatics Team - Republic of Korea Air Force   MB339NAT - 430/2 - Al Fursan display team - United Arab Emirates Air Force
 
MiG-29 Fulcrum - 111 - 1. elt - Polish Air Force   MiG-29 Fulcrum - 111 - 1. elt - Polish Air Force   L-100-30 Hercules - 1216 - 4 Squadron - United Arab Emirates Air Force   E-6B Mercury - 164405 - VQ-4 - United States Navy
 
MV-22B Osprey - 168225/EH-13 - United States Marines
 
Sea King Mk41 - 89+55 - Marinefliegergeschwader 5 - German Navy   United Kingdom   United Kingdom   Sea King HC4 - ZD626/S - 845 Naval Air Squadron - Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm
 
Mi-14 Haze - 1001 - 29 eLMW - Polish Navy   KC-135R Stratotanker - 62-3506 - 153 Air Refueling Squadron - United States Air Force   EF2000 - 30+31 - Jagdbombergeschwader 31 - German Air Force   KC-767J - 07-3604 - 404 Hikotai - Japan Air Self-Defense Force
 
B-2A Spirit - 82-1068/ED - 412 Test Wing - United States Air Force
 
RIAT 2012 - The Show
 
YAK-130 - 01/130 - Russian Air Force   YAK-130 - 01/130 - Russian Air Force   Rafale C - 135/113-GN - ETR 02.092 - French Air Force   Rafale C - 135/113-GN - ETR 02.092 - French Air Force
 
Typhoon FGR4 - ZK333/EH - 6 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Typhoon FGR4 - ZK333/EH - 6 Squadron - Royal Air Force   F-16AM Fighting Falcon - J-015 - F-16 Solo Display Team - Royal Netherlands Air Force   F-16AM Fighting Falcon - J-015 - F-16 Solo Display Team - Royal Netherlands Air Force
 
MiG-29 Fulcrum - 111 - 1. elt - Polish Air Force

Royal International Air Tattoo 2012

Report by Remco Donselaar, photography by Stuart Freer, Ashley Wallace and Remco Donselaar, video Jan Loedeman.

This years Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) was moved against tradition, to the first weekend of July because of the London 2012 Olympic Games being held at the end of July. A number of major events were brought forward including RIAT 2012 which was heavily linked with the Farnborough International Trade and Air Show. RIAT 12 was definitely a favourite for the golden medal of possibly the best show of the year, looking at the participating nations. Did it meet the expectations?

A few days before the start of the show it was announced that the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) would send over a KC-767J tanker aircraft to RAF Fairford. Other than for State visits, it would be the first time a Japanese military aircraft has touched down on British soil. For RIAT it was the 53rd nation to participate since 1971. The confirmation of this rather exotic participant from the "Land of the Rising Sun" fed hope on fairly good weather for RIAT 12. With June officially being the wettest in the UK since records began, a scenario like RIAT 08 was in the making. Preventive measures were taken by the organisers around the showground which worked very well to let the show go on, but couldn't prevent cars having to be pulled out of the fields by local farmers.

On the Saturday torrential rain delayed the qualification for the Silverstone F1 Grand Prix some 50 miles to the North-East of Fairford. The start of the show actually saw some sunny spells between a few showers. Sunday was even better with longer sunny periods throughout the day, a complete different view than for those who were watching the Wimbledon final between Andy Murray and Roger Federer as that game had a 40 minute break to close the roof.

More than 130,000 spectators over 2 days preferred RIAT12 to the other mentioned events, were treated to a varied programme of demonstrations on the ground as well as in the air built around this years major themes: the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Skylift 2012 (which showcased modern, versatile and long-range transport aircraft) where the latter came into its own in the static show more than in the air in contrast to the Queen's celebrations, more of that later.

 
MiG-29 Fulcrum - 111 - 1. elt - Polish Air Force   MiG-29 Fulcrum - 111 - 1. elt - Polish Air Force   F-16AM Fighting Falcon - FA-121 - 2 Wing - Belgian Defence - Air Component   F-16AM Fighting Falcon - FA-83 - 2 Wing - Belgian Defence - Air Component
 
JAS 39C Gripen - 39273/273 - F17 - Swedish Air Force   JAS 39C Gripen - 39273/273 - F17 - Swedish Air Force   F/A-18F Super Hornet - 166790 - VFA-122 - United States Navy   F/A-18F Super Hornet - 166790 - VFA-122 - United States Navy
 
Touchdown Aviation
 
Tutor T1 - G-BYXN/XN - 16 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Tutor T1 - G-BYXN/XN - 16 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Beech 200 - ZK450/J - 45 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Beech 200 - ZK450/J - 45 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
Tucano T1 - ZF269/269 - 72 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Tucano T1 - ZF269/269 - 72 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Hawk T1A - XX278 - 208 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   Hawk T1A - XX278 - 208 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
 
The RAF Falcons Parachute Display team were supposed to open the show on both days but a low cloud base however, prevented them to perform a safe jump. Kicking off proceedings was the RAF Beech 200 demo, which is always impressive. Unofficially we were presented an improvised demo by two USMC MV-22 Ospreys before 10 o'clock on the Saturday. No less than 4 examples were flown to the UK to participate at RIAT and Farnborough with no doubt to try and find some foreign customers for this striking combination of helicopter and transport aircraft.

Throughout the day we saw eight solo jet displays, all of them were of high quality but our favourite had to be the MiG-29 from the Polish Air Force. This was the first MiG-29 demonstration to appear in the flying display since the Russian MiG-29OVT display back in 2006. While not having the thrust vectoring of its successor, the Polish example was just as impressive! A modern piece of Russian hardware was shown by the YAK-130 'Mitten'. This subsonic jet trainer/light attack aircraft has been in service with the Russian Air Force since 2010 and showed it's capability with a full load of armaments.

The RAF was well represented in the flying display showing most of the type’s active today. The RAF Chinook HC2 being thrown around in every direction is always impressive and wows the crowd. This years Tucano and Hawk display aircraft were painted in a scheme representing the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, in fact the Tucano T1 even wears the EIIR insignia on the underside of the aircraft. Relating to the Skylift 2012 theme there was a fly past of current and future operated types from nearby RAF Brize Norton. While the flypast itself was not the most exciting, the fact that it was the only chance to see the 6 types together for one last time, with the VC-10 being withdrawn from service by March 2013.

Aviation history was well presented in the flying display by the RAF Battle of Britain Historical Flight, RN Historical Flight and the Avro Vulcan XH558. For the latter it was the first public display this year after the restoration work following the double engine failure at the end of May. Bad weather on the route from RNAS Yeovilton to RAF Fairford prevented the Hawker Sea Fury T20 flying on Saturday but on the Sunday it performed its full display flown by Lieutenant Commander Chris Gotke.

At the end of Sunday’s display an emotional missing man formation was flown by the RAF Tornado Role Demonstration Team to commemorate the three aircrew from 15 Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth, who lost their lives in a tragic mid-air collision the week before RIAT 12, the team dedicated their role demonstration to them.
Chinook HC2 - ZA714/AV - 18 Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
Apache AH1 - ZJ167 - 3 Flight (TA) - Army Air Corps   Apache AH1 - ZJ167 - 3 Flight (TA) - Army Air Corps   Chinook HC2 - ZA714/AV - 18 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Chinook HC2 - ZA714/AV - 18 Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
A-109BA Hirundo - H24 - Wing Heli - Belgian Defence - Air Component   A-109BA Hirundo - H24 - Wing Heli - Belgian Defence - Air Component   MV-22B Osprey - 168225/EH-13 - United States Marines   MV-22B Osprey - 168226/EH-14 - United States Marines
 
MV-22B Osprey - 168225/EH-13 - United States Marines
 
Hawker Sea Fury T20 - G-RNHF - Royal Navy Historic Flight - United Kingdom   Hawker Sea Fury T20 - G-RNHF - Royal Navy Historic Flight - United Kingdom   Avro Vulcan B2 - G-VLCN - Vulcan to the Sky Trust - United Kingdom   Avro Vulcan B2 - G-VLCN - Vulcan to the Sky Trust - United Kingdom
 
Avro Lancaster BII - PA474 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Avro Lancaster BII - PA474 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IIa - P7350 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IIa - P7350 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom
 
MB339NAT - Al Fursan display team - United Arab Emirates Air Force

Last February it was announced that the United Arab Emirates Air Force aerobatics team 'Al Fursan' or 'The Knights' would make its European debut at RIAT 12. The team, founded in 2010, fly seven Alenia Aermacchi MB-339A Italian training aircraft  performed for the first time at the Dubai Airshow in November 2011 to mark the UAE's 40th anniversary. As the team were trained by the Frecce Tricolori (flying the same aircraft type), we saw a display that showed well known elements from Italy's primary display team.

Like last year, the Royal Saudi Air Force display team the 'Saudi Hawks' flying six BAe Hawk Mk.65 trainers painted in an all green colour scheme with white trim would perform at both show days but cancelled last minute due to un-foreseen circumstances. One of the best civil aerobatic teams returned to RAF Fairford after 3 year absence - sporting a black/grey colour scheme the Breitling Jet team have proved to be one of the better display teams in Europe throughout the years!

As the Swiss F-5E Tiger II replacement competition was awarded in favour of the Saab Gripen, the Patrouille Suisse will only have a few years left flying the current composition with their six multi engine fighters. Their display during the weekend was a little bit disappointing compared to years before. For team leader Capt Marc 'Zimi' Zimmerli it was his last overseas display. A regular at RIAT are the Royal Jordanian Falcons, this year was no exception and they flew their routine very smooth as always.

Part of the celebrations of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee was the EIIR (Elizabeth II Royal) formation with no less than 27 Hawk T1 and T2 aircraft. The formation was executed on the Sunday only as the VFR conditions were below the minimum requirement on the Saturday of the show so instead a 9 ship diamond formation was flown. The Public's favourite, the RAF Red Arrows flew both days, this year the team consists of seven aircraft instead of the regular nine in tribute to the tragic incidents the team went through last year.

The absolute stars of the show were the eagerly anticipated Republic of Korea Air Force, 239th Aerobatic Squadron, "Black Eagles" Aerobatic Team. Announced as making their European debut at RIAT 12 they actually flew their second European show, as RAF Waddington Air Show took the scoop one week earlier. The team is flying the Korean developed and build T-50 ’Golden Eagle' supersonic light-trainer aircraft which it has been flying since 2009. The very dynamic show stole the heart of the spectators and the organisers awarded the team with 2 Trophy’s at the end of the show.

 
MB339NAT - Al Fursan display team - United Arab Emirates Air Force   MB339NAT - Al Fursan display team - United Arab Emirates Air Force   MB339NAT - Al Fursan display team - United Arab Emirates Air Force   MB339NAT - Al Fursan display team - United Arab Emirates Air Force
 
L-39C - Breitling Jet Team   L-39C - Breitling Jet Team   F-5E Tiger II - Patrouille Suisse - Swiss Air Force   F-5E Tiger II - Patrouille Suisse - Swiss Air Force
 
Hawk - Royal Air Force
 
Hawk T1A - The Red Arrows - Royal Air Force   Hawk T1A - The Red Arrows - Royal Air Force   Hawk T1A - The Red Arrows - Royal Air Force   Hawk T1A - XX323 - The Red Arrows - Royal Air Force
 
T-50B Golden Eagle - Black Eagles Aerobatics Team - Republic of Korea Air Force   T-50B Golden Eagle - Black Eagles Aerobatics Team - Republic of Korea Air Force   T-50B Golden Eagle - Black Eagles Aerobatics Team - Republic of Korea Air Force   T-50B Golden Eagle - 10-0053/7 - Black Eagles Aerobatics Team - Republic of Korea Air Force
 
T-50B Golden Eagle - 10-0056/2 - Black Eagles Aerobatics Team - Republic of Korea Air Force
 
VC10 K3 - ZA150/J - 101 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Hercules C4 - ZH874/874 - 24 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Tristar K1 - ZD951 - 216 Squadron - Royal Air Force   C-17A Globemaster III - ZZ175 - 99 Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
Voyager KC2 - ZZ330 - QinetiQ - Aircraft Test & Evaluation - Royal Air Force   A400M Atlas - F-WWMZ - Airbus Militairy   Tornado GR4A - ZA461/026 - 2 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Tornado GR4A - ZA369/003 - 15 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
Tornado GR4A - ZA369/003 - 15 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
RIAT 2012 - Departures
 
F-4F Phantom II - 38+28 - Jagdgeschwader 71 - German Air Force   F-4F Phantom II - 38+28 - Jagdgeschwader 71 - German Air Force   Lynx AH7 - XZ643/C - 671 Squadron - Army Air Corps   Do228 LM - 57+04 - Marinefliegergeschwader 3 - German Navy
 
Super Lynx Mk90B - S-175 - Eskadrille 723 - Danish Air Force   Hawk T2 - ZK033/Y - 4 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force   VC10 C1K - XR808/R - 101 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Sea King HAR3 - ZA105/B - 203 (Reserve) Squadron - Royal Air Force
 
Tornado IDS - 45+85 - Aufklärungsgeschwader 51 - German Air Force
 
PC-9M - 263 - Flying Training  School - Irish Air Corps   Hawk T1A - XX318/95-Y - 100 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Puma HC1 - XW223 - 33 Squadron - Royal Air Force   Sea King HC4 - ZE425/WR - 848 Naval Air Squadron - Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm
 
T-90 Calima - FAC2446 - Colombian Air Force   C-130H Hercules - 345 - 3 Squadron - Royal Jordanian Air Force   JAS 39D Gripen - 43 - 1 Vadászrepülö Repüloszázad - Hungarian Air Force   B-2A Spirit - 82-1068/ED - 412 Test Wing - United States Air Force
 
Mi-14PL Haze - 1001 - 29 eLMW - Polish Navy
 
Touchdown Conclusion
 

After two splendid show days the traditional awards were held at the Night Hangar Party on Sunday evening. As said, stars of the show were the Republic of Korea Air Force, 239th Aerobatic Squadron, "Black Eagles". The other winners were:

  • The King Hussein Memorial Sword (best overall flying display):
    Republic of Korea Air Force, 239th Aerobatic Squadron,"Black Eagles" Aerobatic Team. 
  • Lockheed Martin Cannestra Trophy (Best Overseas Flying Demonstration):
    Capt Adrian Rojek and Capt Artur Kalko flying the Polish Air Force Mikoyan MiG-29. 
  • Steedman Display Sword:
    Flt Lt Paul A Farmer and his team, flying the Chinook from 18 Sqn, RAF Odiham. 
  • Sir Douglas Bader Trophy (Best Individual Flying Demonstration):
    Captains Michael Brocard & Cedric Ruet, from ETR 2/92 Aquitaine, French Air Force, flying the Rafale. 
  • Paul Bowen Solo Jet Trophy:
    Sqn Ldr Scott Loughran of 6 Squadron RAF Leuchars, flying the Eurofighter Typhoon. 
  • As The Crow Flies (Friends of RIAT Best Overall Flying Demonstration):
    Republic of Korea Air Force, 239th Aerobatic Squadron,"Black Eagles" Aerobatic Team. 
  • RIAT 2012 Best Livery:
    Polish Navy's Mil Mi-14 "Haze"' helicopter of 29 Eskadra based at Darlowo. 

Looking back this years Royal International Air Tattoo we can conclude it was one of the best in years. As an addition to the outstanding flying display programme, the static show was very varied. One highlight was the B-2A 'Spirit of New York' which was making it's first appearance of the type since 2004 and the first time it touched down on RAF Fairford tarmac since 1999! It really was back to basics for the static park with focus on the aircraft and their presentation. The lines of (SAR) helicopters, F-16s and Hercules's were very well presented, the latter including a colourful rare Colombian C-130H Hercules (part of Skylift 2012). It was another first Nation for RIAT bringing along a T-90 Calima trainer in its hold.

RIAT really earned the first golden medal even before the start of the Olympics, 5 stars for this years edition!

 
Touchdown Rating - 5 out of 5
 
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