Back after a COVID-19 hiatus, we look back on the highlights of RIAT 2022.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions on gatherings led to 2021 RIAT’s cancellation. This event was supposed to be the Air Tattoo’s 50th anniversary year. “We are really fortunate that the public have carried over tickets for two years, and left their money with us, which is absolutely amazing,” said Paul Atherton. This despite the organisers having offered full refunds.
The good news however is that RIAT 2022 went ahead, and was greatly supported by all. RIAT 2022 is marking 75 years since the United States Air Force was formed in 1947. Unfortunately there was not as great deal of flying from the USAF, and some aircraft never arrived such as the B52, being cancelled. The main USAF attraction was the USAF E-4B ‘Nightwatch’ or ‘Doomsday Plane’, which flew on Friday. This aircraft is one of four and is based on the B747.
Hundreds of aircraft from around the world descended at RAF Fairford, with aircraft such as the Tornado fighter jets from the German Air Force. The German military sent a total of 11 aircraft, including fighters, transports and helicopters to RIAT.
The biggest drawcard and one of the highlights was the ‘Black Eagles’ from The Republic of Korea, with amazing displays and supported in the air by the RAF Red Arrows. You just cannot get better than that. They flew eight KAI T-50B jets in their trademark black, white and yellow team colours. Although they have already performed at three UK airshows this year, this was the first time they have flown a full display. On the Saturday they flew two passes with the famous British Red Arrows.
The ‘Mustang X-Ray Demo Team’ flew a pair of Pilatus PC-21 advanced turboprops trainers, followed by the Swedish Air Force with a Gripen and a SK.60. The Austrian Air Force intercepted a C-130K Hercules with a pair of EF2000’s Typhoons. Another RIAT debut was the Czeck Air Force Hind & Hip helicopters.
NATO sent an Early Warning & Control Force Sentry aircraft which partook in a flying display on Friday. A message to the Russians perhaps?
The Estonian Air Force was back with a M28 ‘Skytruck’, and the Lithuanian Air Force bought their AS365 Dauphin helicopter and a LET-410. Even the Hellenic Air Force was present and on Saturday the amazing Airbus BelugaXL did two aerial displays.
Tom Cruise was a guest of honour with Astronaut Charlie Duke from Apollo 16, who is still looking great and full of energy and enthusiasm at his ripe old age. Heroes meeting Heroes. Inspirational!
One of the negative comments at RIAT 2022 was no covered areas for the public to get out of the hot sun and swelting temperatures experienced.
The next Royal International Air Tattoo is scheduled for 14-16 July 2023.