Royal International Air Tattoo returns for 2022 better than ever

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The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team The Red Arrows conduct a mixed formation flypast with the VIP Airbus Royal Air Force’s Voyager “Vespina” over RAF Fairford for the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) weekend. Photographer: SAC Abigail Drewett. Copyright: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

RAF Fairford has been buzzing with 170,000 excited visitors this weekend and the Cotswolds has echoed once again with the thrilling sights and sounds of several hundred aircraft of all shapes and sizes, from all eras and countries of the world, gathering for a unique adrenalin-fuelled occasion.

The Royal International Air Tattoo returned for 2022, better than ever with even Hollywood movie star Tom Cruise paying the largest military air show in the world a visit on Saturday.

The air show confirmed the Top Gun star’s arrival by tweeting a picture, captioning it: “He can be our wingman any time! Look who just arrived at #RIAT22!”

The event, which takes place at RAF Fairford, was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Aircraft flying at the show included the US Air Force’s Bell Boeing CV-22B Osprey from the 7th Special Operations Squadron in honour of the United States Air Force’s 75th anniversary.

To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the UK Royal Air Force flew the Avro Lancaster from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the BAE Systems Hawk T1 from the RAF Red Arrows.

Hundreds of aircraft flew into the Gloucestershire airbase from around the world to join the event including Jets from 17 other Air Forces around the world.

Opening the show was star attraction VIP RAF Voyager, also known as the “Vespina” (its Royal Air Force designation) and with a military registration of ZZ336, the customised Airbus A330 MRTT owned and operated by the Royal Air Force that is the first principal VIP transport plane for British government ministers and the British royal family.

Officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows as always showcased the excellence of the RAF with second to none death defying displays to the amazement of the crowds below.

The team consists of 11 pilots, nine of whom fly in the display, and more than 100 support personnel and technicians.

Each of the pilots has previous fast-jet, operational experience flying the Tornado, Typhoon or Harrier, enabling the RAF to secure the skies and protect the nation and its interests, 365-days a year.

One of the world’s premier aerobatic teams, the Red Arrows have completed nearly 5,000 displays, in 57 countries, by the beginning of 2021. Flying Hawk T1 jets, the team is based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. 

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