Whilst recent RIAT’s do not compare with the heady days of the 1990’s, RIAT 2017 will go down as one of the better shows of recent years, despite the best attempts of the traditional British summer weather to ruin it.
Highlight for most would be the reappearance of Eastern European heavy metal in the form of the Ukrainian air force and their SU-27 Flankers.
The Ukrainian’s didn’t disappoint with an agile display, set against awful weather on both the Saturday and Sunday, with the latter being the slightly better day.
RIAT celebrated the 70th anniversary of the creation of the US air force, with a unique flypast on the Sunday with an F15C from RAF Lakenheath escorting a B2 Spirit over the Gloucestershire skies.
We were also treated to a Memorial flypast by an F22 Raptor accompanied by P51 Mustang Frenesi, a three ship F15 flypast, 2 F16’s from the USAF in Germany, KC135 and Ramstein C130 Hercules.
Given the amount of vapour in the air the F22 didn’t disappoint and the pilot did his best to add to the cloud cover in one of those rare blue sky moments.
Also making an appearance, for the first time in the UK since 2011 were the USAF Thunderbirds. We were treated to the usual US build up and copious amounts of white smoke to add to the grey haze hanging over Fairford. Not the best conditions for photography.
Stars, for me, were the French Mirage 200D display team – Couteau Delta, with some superb twin ship flying.
Much has been written about the show, the organisers certainly tried their very best and pulled a few rabbits out of the hat, here’s hoping that they manage to replicate that success in 2018.