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Fantastic flying kicks off RIAT Media launch

RIAT 2011

A BEVY of fantastic flying machines touched down today (Wednesday June 8) at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire for the media launch of this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo, to help the event celebrate its 40th anniversary.

The aircraft - from the swing-wing fast jet Tornado GR4, through the USAF’s MC-130P Combat Shadow and the Royal Navy’s tiger-striped Navy Merlin, to two ultralight EV-97 Eurostars, provided by the RAF Charitable Trust, and a Boeing Stearman biplane from the Breitling Wingwalkers - touched down at the home of the Air Tattoo to launch this year’s event, which takes place on July 16 and 17.

Sir David Jason, a great supporter of the Air Tattoo and an Honorary Vice Patron since 1999, arrived in an RAF Chinook HC2 from RAF Odiham to perform the official cutting of the Air Tattoo’s 40th birthday cake and to wish the event well. He said: “It’s a great pleasure to come to the media launch, as I like to feel it’s helping drum up the support that the RAF Charitable Trust needs.”

He added: “The Charitable Trust is close to my heart as it supports all the guys in the military who’ve fallen on hard times, as the money raised goes to help them and to make their lives more worthwhile. I feel very strongly about the role the RAF played in the Second World War, as I was born during the conflict and without them none of us would be here – so I feel duty bound, and proud, to support the Trust. ”
 The launch also featured three veterans from the first-ever Air Tattoo held in 1971 at North Weald, Essex. Spitfire Mk9 (MH434) which displayed at the first-ever Air Tattoo, flew in to join Tim Prince, Air Tattoo Chief Executive and a founder member of the airshow, along with aviation journalist and photographer Peter R March.

Recalling the Spitfire’s first Air Tattoo appearance (it will also be displaying at this year’s event), when it was piloted by former Red Arrows leader and legendary aerobatics display pilot Ray Hanna, Tim Prince said: “I can still recall the cold sweat I felt when Ray made his first approach: he was so low the tips of his propeller seemed to be touching the ground. But Ray went on to perform fantastically in MH434 and he helped cement the Air Tattoo’s reputation for staging spectacular aerial displays.”

Tim added: “It’s a great pleasure to welcome our guests, and this has really set the scene for an outstanding 40th anniversary Royal International Air Tattoo. The United States Air Force is firmly behind us, as shown by the participation of the MC-130P Combat Shadow from RAF Mildenhall, along with Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and civilian aircraft, and we look forward to them joining us again, with thousands of members of the public, for our anniversary Air Tattoo on July 16 and 17.”

Renowned aviation journalist Peter March from Bristol also attended the first ever Air Tattoo at North Weald. He said: “It’s been a marvellous experience being a member of such an outstanding team of aviation enthusiasts. I’ve been involved for 40 years, and I hope to continue producing the programme and taking photos as long as I’m able.”

First to touch down at the launch was the MC-130P Combat Shadow from RAF Mildenhall, representing and reinforcing the Air Tattoo’s long-standing links with the United States Air Force. It was quickly joined by a Royal Navy Merlin helicopter from 814 Naval Air Squadron, Culdrose, sporting a grey striped livery and representing the Tiger 50 theme of this year’s Air Tattoo, which marks the 50th anniversary of the NATO Tiger Association.

Next in was a Tornado GR4 from XV Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth, which flew the 500-plus miles from North East Scotland (in a mere 40 minutes) and put on a fly-past for the assembled media. The fast jet display was followed by a fly-past by the historic Spitfire MH434, linking past and present as one of the aircraft which displayed at the first-ever Air Tattoo in 1971.

Two EV-97 Eurostars, funded by the RAF Charitable Trust and providing Air Experience Flights for RAF trainees then joined the runway display, with the final arrival being a Boeing Stearman biplane from the Breitling Wingwalkers base at nearby Rendcomb, complete with wingwalker Danielle Hughes who performed her daring display on top of the bright orange biplane.

This year’s Air Tattoo takes place from July 16 to 17 at RAF Fairford, in Gloucestershire, when more than 155,000 visitors are expected to view around 250 aircraft from across the world.

The event is staged in support of its parent charity, the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, which provides financial support to a wide variety of RAF-related projects and initiatives within the RAF family. Since 2005 the Trust has gifted over £1.56 million to a wide range of projects and initiatives.

  • Event: RIAT 2011
  • Date: Saturday 16 - Sunday 17 July 2011
  • Time: Gates open at 7.30am. Flying display starts at 10.00am
  • Tickets:  £39 for specific day; £44 for either day and £68 for 2 days. Children under 16 FREE when accompanied by an adult ticket holder. Tickets must be purchased in advance.   Tickets can be purchased at or by calling the Ticket Office on 0800 107 1940  No tickets are available on the gates.Also Available in selected Barclays Banks and Tourist Information Centres.
  • Where: Fairford, Glos.

Explore Gloucestershire
8 June 2011

For further information.
  • Contact phone : Ticket Office on 0800 107 1940
  • Also see : RIAT 2011


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