Wings and Wheels Society.

Royal International Air Tattoo Wednesday 12-7-2023.

The Air Tattoo this year was back in style celebrating "Sky Tanker" 100 Years of air-to-air refuelling, with the actual public days being the 14th-16th July 2023, this was the Tattoo's 51st show. The International Air Tattoo has a global reputation for delivering the world's most spectacular showcase of modern military aviation and providing unique engagement opportunities for the world's air forces to meet annually at RAF Fairford. To date approximately 56 nations from across the world have participated at the Air Tattoo, sending aircraft for spectators to admire and enjoy. We must not forget that the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) grew from humble beginnings, with the first event held at North Weald Airfield in 1971 having around 100 aircraft on display. All profits from RIAT go to the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises, along with many other donations. The Fairford 2023 show that Bill Dave and I and many other friends and Wings & Wheels Society members visited saw approximately 170,000 excited visitors through the gates to enjoy the thrilling sights and sounds of several hundred aircraft of all shapes and sizes, from all eras and countries of the world, on this awesome, unique, adrenalin-fuelled long weekend. The 2023 show was certainly an eclectic mix of aircraft powered by Jet, Piston, and even Hydrogen propulsion in both flying and static displays, focusing on many themes of air-to-air re-fuelling, 100 years of the Italian Air Force, 40 years of Flying Scholarships for the disabled (FSDP) and also a nod to the 80th anniversary of the famous RAF Dambuster raids from 617 squadron known as Operation Chastise. Near to the show we knew that the RIAT 2023 weather could be a wet and sunny one, all said, apart from the rain, especially on Friday it was not too bad, as you can see in our photographs. So as usual we used lots of sun protection and water hydration, lashings of tea coffee beer burgers chips etc kept us snapping away on our Nikons throughout the whole event. Throughout the show Dave, Bill, and I were based in the Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo (FRIAT) enclosure, with our MACH3 tickets (purchased in October 2022), we must also say we had a great set of friendly people sat around us in the stands as usual. The whole show is always a friendly event, the extra hard work the teams of volunteers put in to make it happen really shone through. Some of the Highlights of the 6 days of flying and static displays (including the 3 public days) were as follows, watching a Cold War style B52 arrive display and depart with lots of smokey thrash was, as usual, a great treat for us photographers as well as seeing the arrival and departure of a Hellenic Phantom, Luftwaffe Tornado's, Spanish and Italian AV8B (Harrier Jump jets), SAAB SK60's, not forgetting many other excellent display teams from Spain, Jordan, Saudi, UAE, and our own UK Red Arrows. However, the one jewel in the crown that we waited for and saw daily with much excitement was the Flugmuseum Messerschmitt Me 262 flying replica, that displayed on the weekend, something we thought you would never see at RIAT let alone in UK Skys! In the Static display, including the arrival and departure days, there were a lot of varied types of aircraft to say the least. These featured older aircraft such as P51 Mustang's, Spitfire's, Chipmunk's, Meteor, and Vampire. Also represented was a group of Italian Fiat G46's, we met one of the Lady owners on a RIAT bus and had a great chat with her about the aircraft. Also, if Classic Cold War Heavy Metal takes your fancy, we had a trio of classic heritage flight SAABs, a Sukhoi Su22 Fitter, Hunter T72, and a Lockheed U-2 spy plane which were also great to see. Large static exhibits ranged from Airbus A400's, Boeing C17 Globe master's, to all types of Sky tankers that included a Private venture 1950's era American KC135, where Rich was lucky enough to be invited onboard to have a look in the tail refuelling boom operators seat and of course a visit to the cockpit, many thanks to the crew of this aircraft for making this possible. Many more exciting aircraft, to numerous to mention, were also on static display. Please enjoy the photos, I think we certainly captured the excitement of this always monumental, much needed, special occasion. We would also like to say many thanks to all who made this massive show run so smoothly, and a special thanks to FRIAT Manager Wendy Toms, her team, and the ATC cadets for all the hard work they put in to make the FRIAT enclosure the success that it is. Cheers, Rich, Dave, Bill, and friends.

Copyright of all pictures in this gallery belong to R Kelsey.