Text: Bruno Ghils - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Bruno Ghils, Philippe Decock & Jacques Vincent - Translation: Marc Arys  © sbap 2015
The Royal International Air Tattoo 2015 - A "Grand Cru"

As every year the Royal International Air Tattoo took its quarters at the Fairford airbase and this airshow which claims to be the best of its kind in the world, kept his promises and was far from disappointing… Of course airshows with over 300 aircraft in static display, a C-130 line-up as far as the eye can see or the tattoos at the end of the Gulf War or even Cold War are gone, but those were the days before the financial restrictions and the the general economical crisis. The 2015 edition of the Tattoo was not far from one of these by-gone editions with surprises, exclusivities, 'rare birds' and a fully packed program with daily flying displays from 10 AM till 7 PM. Just that ! 
As always, the show was build up around various themes with this year, as a high keypoint, the anniversary of the Battle of Britain. This Battle was, as we all know, one of the most important accomplishments in the British contemporary history, laid the foundations for the Royal Air Force and was the absolute proof of the valour and the capacity to resist and fight back of the British people. To see 12 Spitfires, 5 Hurricans and the recently restored Bristol Blenheim fly together, one could only stand in emotion remembering the words of Sir Winston Churchill "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". But the Tattoo was not only an historical show as other anniversaries were also celebrated such as the TTE (Tri National Training Establishment). Indeed, the Tornado reached its 35 years of service throughout European skies and we could see a combined flight of three Tornados, one from each founding nation - Germany, Italy and Great-Britain. Moreover, three aircraft superbly decorated to mark this anniversary were presented in the static display area. The Royal Air Force Cadets also celebrated their 30 years of participation to the RIAT, 30 years of sympathetic contribution from these young boys and girls to the Tattoo… How much of them became pilots or RAF personnel ? 
Let us talk about the Royal Air Force. This year again, several prestigious squadrons marked their anniversary by decorating specially some of their aircraft. Those commemorative airplanes were of course present in the static display area, as the essential link between the past and the future, one of the symbols of the Tattoo ! 

The future of aviation, the future of the Royal Air Force and the future of the aeronautical industry is also to be found at the RIAT. Wandering through the static area, we could find a sample of what the defence industry is capable of. In exclusivity a Airbus Helicopter NH90 from the Belgian Air Force (which recently took into service this European flagship), a C-130J of the Qatar Emiri Air Force, a USAF CV22 or a P8 from the US NAVY. Not to forget some prototypes as the Textron's Scorpion (maybe the future for some air forces ?). And even if the F-35 was once again absent, the aviation of the 21st century was well represented. Still about the future, there were two Kawasaki P1 in the static and flying display. The P1 is a naval patrol aircraft and new spearhead of the Japanese Navy. Those two superb aircraft flew straight in from the Land of the Rising Sun and was a military as well as a political exclusivity. It was the very first time a Japanese airplane took part in an aerial demonstration in Europe. Japan is to put up military equipment for exportation as the Japanese constitution was recently modified that way. Why not dream of a Kawasaki P1 in Royal Air Force colours ? This could fill the gap caused by the retirement of the Nimrods. There is an urgent need for marine patrolling aircraft in Great-Britain and it is not the troubled world we live in that will denie this fact. But the RIAT is above all a superb airshow : the Patrouille de France, the Spanish Patrulla Aguila, the Swiss PC7-team and, of course, the Red Arrows which flew a remarkable display together with the mythical Avro Vulcan. Also to put forward the participation of various solo displays. From the RAF and the Army Air Corps (Hawk-demo, Typhoon, Chinook and Apaches) as well as the nice synchro-pair made up of a Typhoon and a Spitfire. And foreign displays as well : the Belgian and Greek F-16, the Polish Mig-29, the French Ramex Delta and a mind-boggling demonstration of a Finnish F-18. The pilot of this latter was rewarded with the trophy of best demo pilot, following Capt Renaud 'Grat' Thys of the Belgian Air Force who won the Douglas Bader trophy in 2014.

So YES !... It was a great Tattoo and the 2016 edition is already awaited impatiently.

The SBAP-team wishes to thank the media services of the RIAT for the accreditation, the welcome, the accommodations and granted facilities which allowed us to work in the most excellent conditions.

Static Display

Flying Display


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