RAF Fairford home to ‘world’s largest air show’
July 8, 2008
A demonstration of the U.S. Air Force’s most advanced jet fighter highlights this weekend’s Royal International Air Tattoo, a massive air show attracting roughly 160,000 visitors to secluded RAF Fairford each year.
Three F-22A Raptors — part of a fleet built to replace aging F-15 aircraft — will make their United Kingdom flying debut at the show. An estimated 300 other aircraft from almost 30 countries are also slated to attend Saturday and Sunday.
Known as the world’s largest military air show, the RIAT is offering free access to active-duty U.S. Air Force airmen, dependents and civilians with Department of Defense ID cards — a deal worth more than 30 pounds (about $60) per ticket. They only need to show their ID at the gate to get in the show.
Children under 16 are free when accompanied by an adult.
People are encouraged to travel in groups on buses to alleviate congestion on the roads, said Richard Arquati, spokesman for the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises, one of the show’s coordinators.
The skies above Fairford are to be bustling with at least 10 flying and aerobatic display teams from around the globe, in addition to historic World War II aircraft such as the Spitfire, Lancaster and Hurricane.
A number of Europe-based U.S. aircraft will be grounded to allow visitors a closer look. They include F-15 jets from the 48th Fighter Wing; a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing; F-16CG jets from the 31st Fighter Wing; a C-21A passenger jet from the 86th Airlift Wing; and MC-130 aircraft from the 352nd Special Operations Group.
Special tributes to the Royal Air Force’s 90th anniversary and a visit from Queen Elizabeth II before the show on Friday are scheduled as well.
For more details on the air show, check out its Web site at www.airtattoo.com