UPDATE 15 July | It was the perfect storm at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford over the weekend. Not weather-wise, as the event was blessed with fine weather conditions. No, it was the turmoil around the non-debut of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, causing a storm of a criticism and ridicule. But also, in the eye of the beholder there was another storm; that of a Eurofighter Typhoon, Panavia Tornado and Hawker Hurricane forming a showpiece as only RIAT can deliver.
According to RIAT organizers, over 140.000 people visited Fairford since Friday. They did not get to see the promised 5th generation fighter aircraft during it’s European airshow debut, but that they did get to see plenty of other stuff, including the Boeing P-8, the Textron Scorpion Jet, the Airbus (CASA / EADS) C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and the Red Arrows celebrating their 50th birthday and the F-16 Fighting Falcon celebrating it’s 40th.
In the end, the F-35 was hardly missed and RIAT – despite defence cutbacks meaning fewer aircraft on the airshow circuit – showed why it prolongs the title ‘the greatest airshow on earth’; thousands of people enjoying an airshow with an unrivaled variety of aircraft. Most exotic visitor was a Boeing KC-767 tanker aircraft from the Japanese Air Self Defence Force. There is no other airshow in Europe – or anywhere else – that draws aircraft from the other side of the planet. It has to be said: RIAT is still in a league of its own.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest