British celebs, pilots come to Fairford to promote upcoming military air show
Stars and Stripes June 13, 2007
RAF FAIRFORD — To hype up this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo, which bills itself as the world’s biggest military air show, a U.S. Air Force aircraft and crewmembers, as well as British celebrities, made a special appearance last week on this remote air base.
An MC-130H Combat Talon II from the RAF Mildenhall-based 7th Special Operations Squadron and Royal Air Force Typhoon and Hawk jets flew in and parked on the flightline to give a few spectators a taste of what’s to come at the July 14-15 show.
Actor and TV personality John Barrowman, from British shows “Dr. Who” and “Torchwood,” and Connie Fisher, star of the London Palladium’s “Sound of Music,” made a thunderous arrival aboard the Hawk jets.
The annual RIAT, which draws roughly 165,000 spectators each year, plans to have about 300 aircraft from around the world on display or up in the air this year.
“They can certainly expect an outstanding spectacle,” RIAT director Tim Prince, said of the expected crowd.
This year’s theme is a tribute to the U.S. Air Force’s 60th anniversary and the close relationship between airmen and their British counterparts. As part of the tribute, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and top brass from the British military are slated to attend.
Also, a wide range of American aircraft, including the B-52 Stratofortress and B-1B Lancer bombers, F-15 and F-117A fighter jets, airlift cargo aircraft, historic airplanes and the aerobatic Thunderbirds team are expected.
“There are more coming already than last year’s show,” Prince said.
The 352nd Special Operations Group, which includes the 7th Special Operations Squadron, will have aircraft on display depending on real-world missions.
Last year, members of the group had to leave the show early to assist in the evacuation of personnel from the Lebanon conflict.
“This year, we’re hoping to come in full force with helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft,” Lt. Col. Albert “Buck” Elton, 7th SOS commander, said during the event.
Although he has never attended the RIAT air show, he liked the idea of having fellow airmen come and spend time with aircraft enthusiasts.
“It’s a great opportunity to open up the aircraft and let the general public come on and ask us questions about the big bombs on our wings,” he joked, referring to the aircraft’s external fuel tanks.
Elton, who commanded the MC-130H flight to Fairford, was also on his “fini-flight” as the unit’s commander.
On the last leg of his final flight, Elton said he planned some joint training over the Lakes area in Wales with the Typhoon pilots, one of whom is an American exchange pilot, in order to fulfill training requirements.
Despite its title, the air show will have displays of classic and modern-day vehicles, and adventurous games as well as coaching lessons on skateboarding, in-line skating and BMX biking for the youngsters.
For more information on the air show and to see what sort of aircraft will be attending, check out www.airtattoo.com/showcontent.asp.
If you go ...Active-duty U.S. Air Force members and U.S. civilians with DOD identification cards will be admitted free to the Air Tattoo.
Those seeking free access must call 0870 758 1918 before the event from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For all others, admission is 32.50 pounds for adults in advance and 37.50 pounds at the show. Children 16 and younger are free when accompanied by an adult.