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Talking point: RIAT 2011 – how was it for you?

Tell us what you thought of this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo, held at RAF Fairford over the weekend of July 16/17.

18-Jul-2011


Image courtesy RIAT

Another Royal International Air Tattoo has come and gone. Tell us what you enjoyed, the highlights and lowlights of the 40th anniversary event.

What do you think? Does it still represent value for money? Is it still the world’s premier military airshow? What could be done to improve it? Tell us below!

Filed Under Military Aviation Features, Airshows Features.

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32 Comments

ted knight said on the 9-Feb-2011 at 20:24

how refreshing to read the comments sent to your mag i,ve gone to a dozen fairfords and this one hit the depths.i was actually convinced to send them an e mail for which i got a reply.i pointed out to them aircraft can fly in the rain,so why when flying should have started at 10 on saturday was it after 12 before it began. leaving aside the expense, because the monay goes to charity, why can,t they try a little harder to satisfy the aircraft enthusiasts who regularly attend.if we wanted a kiddies show we could have asked for one.what can be done?.

ted knight said on the 9-Feb-2011 at 20:26

how refreshing to read the comments sent to your mag i,ve gone to a dozen fairfords and this one hit the depths.i was actually convinced to send them an e mail for which i got a reply.i pointed out to them aircraft can fly in the rain,so why when flying should have started at 10 on saturday was it after 12 before it began. leaving aside the expense, because the monay goes to charity, why can,t they try a little harder to satisfy the aircraft enthusiasts who regularly attend.if we wanted a kiddies show we could have asked for one.what can be done?.

Steve said on the 8-Apr-2011 at 18:21

I attended on the Saturday and was a little disappointed with the event.
I know they had to re-jig the flying programme due to the weather and as the main reason for attendance is to view jets etc that you don't always see anywhere else. I have been attending RIAT since 1991 almost every year and there has always been a special display to mark significant events like USAF 50th which was one of the best events I have attended.
Not sure why they could not have ended the flying display later as the Turkish AF solo F-16C and the Saudi AF display team would have been able to display had it been extended or swapped displays over as chances are they won't be seen again in the UK for years or if again. Hopefully next year will be back to the good old days.

Nick Fazey said on the 8-Apr-2011 at 19:27

Well............... i attended both days and puting the RAIN, WIND, assides.... i had a good weekend, my highlight was being AIRSIDE when the VULCAN was airborne.... Totaly Awsome!!!!
And i feel that with the poor weather, budget, the recent SDR, the RIAT team put on a GOOD AIRSHOW. Roll on 2012.

Mike Glyde said on the 8-May-2011 at 12:28

Been going for the past few years, so cant compare to the 'good old days'. I was generally disappointed, with the same comments given by many here and on other blogs and forums. Leaving the aircraft participation aside, as its been covered here are a couple of my observations 1) where were all the aviation related stalls (books, models, paintings etc) it was all perfume, timeshare and garden furniture! 2) Side shows were far to loud and really annoying, which after several hours was enough to make you scream! 3) Static was far too strung out, and the guest stars (Ukrainian SU27 etc) were just plonked in among the loooong spaaaced out line of run of the mill stuff. Why were they not afforded some special attention, or positioned so you could walk all around the aircraft, they were lost. 3) The RIAT feedback questionnaire was a joke, you could not actually feedback what mattered. With regards to the generally derided music stage you could not actually say that you did not visit it at all, only which acts you saw!

RIAT - get back to being an AIRSHOW for the enthusiast or the writing is in the sand. I am off to the Cotswold Airshow next year. Apparently is all about aeroplanes and helicopters!

Gordon Millner said on the 8-Jul-2011 at 19:44

Agree with Penny totaly

perhaps RAIT CANNOT LISTEN BECAUSE OF THE MUSIC PLAYED ON THE TANNOY WHILE AIRCRAFT ARE DISPLAYING

Andrew Ratcliffe said on the 18-Jul-2011 at 19:05

Having attended this years Air Tattoo on the Saturday, in the worst of the weather, I was very disappointed with the flying display. Surely the flying displays can be re-organised to accommodate what people attend the air tattoo really want to see: The rare aircraft which only the Air tattoo can attract. i.e. Saudi Hawks, Italian Air Force Tornado, C-27J Spartan, Turkish Air Force F-16, Austrian Air Force Saab 105. None of these flew on Saturday. Being a regular Airshow attender, travelling the length and breadth of the country, I see most of the acts/flying displays over and over every year, i.e. Tutor, Tucano, Hawk, Tornado Role Demo, BBMF, etc. Would it not be possible to maybe sacrifice these regular flying displays which you can see week in week out (as listed above) to accommodate the overseas rare participants when the conditions allow, as could have been the case on Saturday. The flying display director must have some authority over the air displays and could possibly have substituted the regular displays to get the rare aircraft in the air to display for enthusiasts like myself. I am sure there are many other people out there that attended on Saturday and went home dissappointed at not seeing the Saudi Hawks, or the Turkish F-16 fly etc...

Simon Hodson said on the 18-Jul-2011 at 19:27

Why were the sodding Live Action Arena and the Stage so loud? Where i was (Just East of the tower) i could hardly hear any commentary or announcements on the tannoy at all because of the racket.
Static line up was dissapointing, shame there was no way of making some of the display planes available for better viewing.

adi & maz said on the 18-Jul-2011 at 21:23

I must say we both enjoyed the air tattoo on sunday, we both had a great day and whot great flying by all the pilots and very enjoyed the walking a round to see all the planes thanks again for a most enjoying day as its the first time i have been inside a air show i hope to be back next year

mike lynn said on the 19-Jul-2011 at 11:43

Had a great day,despite the weathers best efforts to spoil things.
Fantastic C27J display.
Thanks to all involved and see you again next year.

Andrew wyatt said on the 19-Jul-2011 at 13:57

I have attended this airshow for the past seven years and this has been the poorest show i've seen. Myself and a group of friends purchased grand stand tickets over the internet and on arriving in the grandstand we had too have tickets for seats, there was only two small places to get food from, no bar, it seems like the only people that interest the organisers are people like the friends of RIAT and the rich, it seems like sod the general public when the genaral public put a lot of money in to this airshow. Due to grandstand facilities, and veiws, my friends and I have said it was a waiste of money. The display on saturday was poor,the statics where poor and the events attendance was poor. We all hope that next years event improves otherwise we will be attending other airshows and give riat a wide birth.

NickP said on the 20-Jul-2011 at 14:39

Very poor offerings this year, not a patch on Yeovilton and Kemble, have to agree with Andrew seems like a jolly for those that count and the general public can get lost - Lets hope the organisers read this and take things on board - To sum up very boring indeed, RIAT has to be different to the rest in the air display circuit or they might aswell throw the towel in.

Keith A said on the 20-Jul-2011 at 20:41

I have to agree with the negative comments already aired with reference to the actual flying content. With only one USAF entry in the air and a distinct lack of static examples on the ground the organisers were going to have a mammouth task to make the show live up to previous years successes. I have attended the show since 1989 and have endured a move to Cottesmore for the relaying of a new runway at Fairford, we now que halfway round the village in an unmarshalled mass waiting for the gates to open and now need to splash out a kings ransom for programmes, checklists and momentoes.
I fully understand the world airforces commitments to safeguarding our security at the present time but feel the organisers have fergotten the reason why they have been going for all these years. Its us the paying public that keep the show going with our "oh well maybe next year" philosophy when we are disappointed with a bad show.
The organisers need to give value for money now more than any other time. The exotic aircraft like the Ukranians and Saudi C130 should have been allowed to Arrive on Saturday and leave on Sunday thus giving us a photo oppertunity even though they were not in the actual airshow. And as for the hype about the new RAF Voyager, it sat at one end of the airfield all the weekend and did not move, again this could have left on Sunday for a real treat.
Come on RIAT, get your act together and give us a show like 2003 which is in the record books and my memory for the right reasons.
We fill out questionaires every year, why not listen to us for a change..........

Steve F said on the 22-Jul-2011 at 16:15

As a FRIAT member of a number of years and having not missed an IAT or RIAT since I attended 1973's Greenham Common show , I can only say that I sadly have observed the progressive decline of this show since the late 90s with the exception of maybe a couple of good years. This is both a reflection of the decline in NATOs Airforces since the end of the cold war and the savage cuts now being made across all our armed forces . Yes I agree the flying display should have been shuffled on Saturday to allow the Saudi Hawks etc to display instead of some of the RAF . These teams had gone to considerable expense and effort to be at the show . I don't think we will ever see things get better and perhaps the price of entry needs to reflect the decline . With numbers of aircraft and squadrons being slashed and types going out of service, we will never see the line ups which so made this show in the past. I don't think we will ever hear the complaint that good photographs were impossible because there were so many aircraft parked to close together again !. Shame but nothing stays the same for ever. Perhaps it should go back to being every two years , alternating with Farnborough.

Paul Morton said on the 24-Jul-2011 at 18:55

Seeing the comments so far im glad I did not attend the show.
As last year I went to the arrivals wed/thur/fri.
well worth the money great for photography and like minded people who just love aircraft not all the sideshows and car dealers just pure aircraft.
RIAT needs to shake its self up before it becomes a thing of the past and dies. Its an Airshow so it should just be AircrafTt !!!

Penny said on the 25-Jul-2011 at 16:53

In a word ... disappointing.

I think the organisers are moving away from this being an airshow towards a "day out" for the family and a "jolly" for the corporates / sponsors that just happens to have a bit of flying. I do recognise the need to entertain those attendees who are not aviation enthusiasts, but this must not be at the expense of the majority who I presume come for the aircraft, both flying and static. And if you claim to be the premier, you need to give focus, priority and time to those aircraft that are unique to you. Many comments have already pointed out the relegation of those aircraft that no-one else had! That is your USP, as the jargon goes. What we increasingly get is a focus on side-shows, stall holders and events that are year-on-year less aviation-oriented and more car-boot / county show oriented. Yes I know they bring in revenue, but I'd pay a higher ticket price for an aviation only airshow. I've no desire to see musicians on a stage on an airfield, thank you.

We all know it gets harder every year to get high quality and quantity aircraft attractions. So there's no excuse for not maximising what you have and giving your customers better views and access, particularly for photographers who are already charged a high premium for some of the facilities. I'm sure there's a way you can arrange better access to the parked flying aircraft before / after flying.

Please RIAT, go back to basics and LISTEN to your customers, else you will only exacerbate the dwindling public attendance and have to rely even more heavily on sponsors and corporates to fill the coffers. Hold some focus groups. Consider pushing a few boundaries to make changes that will enliven and reinvigorate proceedings. Try being a member of the public on the day and see it from their perspective.

Currently you are not value for money and only the size of your show qualifies you for "premier" as other shows are offering better quality and delivering what the customer wants.

e-Ticket idea was good - but the booking fee is a rip-off and the £5 either day premium is not justified (hint - Shoreham do not charge any either-day premium and only £1.50 fee for posted tickets!).

It's going to take a very impressive participation list to get me there in 2012.

Mr Graham Hogg said on the 26-Jul-2011 at 11:49

Dear Simon,Great show,Alex was brilliant,shame about those noisey planes,and all those aircraft enthusiasts with the cameras,I do hope you can get Elvis next year.DISAPPOINTED

Dale Holford said on the 28-Jul-2011 at 18:51

totally agree with Andrew Ratcliffe comments, everybody new it was going to rain saturday morning till dinner so why couldn't there be a reserve flying program?? i didn'y pay £38 to watch a Tucano, Tutor display plus 2 displays by non jet teams, why couldn't we have the red Devels saturday, Jordanian Falcons sunday. the Spanish mirage F1 and Swiss Vampire team couldn't display cause of a full program. was there any need for a 4 F16 displays on both days. couldn't we have 2 on one day and 2 on the other. that would free up 2 diplay slot's for the F1 and Vampire's.

Dale Holford said on the 28-Jul-2011 at 19:03

oh and next years show will be good because it's on Farnborough week! if you look at the last few RIAT show's you will see what i meen. im thinking about missing out the odd number years and only going on even numbers lol

Ross Stewart said on the 31-Jul-2011 at 22:05

Completely agree with Andrew Ratcliffe was really looking foward to seeing all the rare aircraft display. Sat for 4 hours in the rain to get a good spot only to be told all mornings aircraft displaying cancelled (watched rehearsals night before, big mistake as knew what was coming) big let down. Come on RIAT we the public pay a high ticket price and you can't shuffle the flying programme has been done in the past.
My father was almost coming over from Canada to start his holiday early i'm glad he didn't. he is coming for next year but only as i have said Farnborough years are the best as said above.
Have been going to RIAT since 1987 but might only go every 2 years as Dale Holford says.
Still enjoyed the rest of the show but RIAT PULL YOUR FINGER OUT YOU NEED TO GET THE RARE STUFF SHOWN AND DO THE MUSIC GIGS AFTER THE FLYING DIPLAY OR NUMBERS WILL DECLINE.

Darren - Oslo, Norway said on the 15-Aug-2011 at 21:59

This Air Show has been in steady decline since the end of the 1990's and I do not think the RIAT can justify the high entrance price for this show anymore as the standard/quantity of aircraft attending does not much the prices being charged. Time for change...

Pete Tyler said on the 16-Aug-2011 at 16:02

A highly overpriced airshow from the entrance fee to the arrival and departure day viewing pay facilities

Paris and Berlin shows are far cheaper.

Defence cut backs across the globe put paid to it's brilliant former days and withdrawals of military aircraft from service leaves little variation.

The show is more a family picnic event with the proliferation of food stalls and other merchants that are abundant at Fairford.

But as they say, if you don't like it's currant format or wish to to pay the costly entrance fee then don't go.

Dan Thompson said on the 18-Aug-2011 at 01:17

question is why are nations so reluctant to send aircraft over for a two day event.......at the RIAT at Greenham Common they had so many airforces and types offering they had to reject many. The Airshow was meant to represent a way of giving back to the tax-payer a day to show and represent what their money went into...........now we pay our money for the armed forces and have not been given the the opportunity to give our regards to the Jaguar, harrier, tornado F.3, nimrod and to give a propern send off. It appears to get worse as now current types within the RAF are now being denied the opportunity to display. However it is not just the poor showing of the RAF, many of the armed forces of Europe are non-existant at these events. However praise should be given to airforces from out Europe who provide the RIAT with static displays. Personally i believe the airshow is dying and will be a thing of the past, but it will only die if CAA rules remain so tight on civilian operated aircraft. Look in the USA where types such as the F-4, A-4, F-104, F-86 and many others can be displayed in private hands. We only have to look to south Africa where Lightnings and buccaneers have been flown to see what can be achieved. In otherwords the airshow and the CAA have to adapt if such ventures are to be successful and popular in the future, otherwise we can safely say the the airshow will die.

Pete Tyler said on the 18-Aug-2011 at 11:21

Dan
If you had read my entry dated 16 Aug the reluctance to send aircraft is called Defence cut backs and austerity measures.
This is modern aviation times why would a military arm arm utilise more types of aircraft when 1 or 2 would would complete the mission requirement, hence there will not be the proliferation of aircraft types at todays airshow.
Many years ago it was like a Military airshow, today it is a charity event for the Royal Air Force Benevolant fund.
The airshow will not die, it will always be there in one format or another.
I cannot understand you reasoning behind the CAA rules and the airshow will die if the CAA rules remain tight. You will find the Vulcan, Meteors, Vampires and Hunters to name but a few in the airshow circuit here in the UK.

Dan Thompson said on the 19-Aug-2011 at 14:57

I think air arms and governments have forgotten that the air show is a public relations act as well as having a good day out. Air arms send participants to us, we send ours to them. It helps to create a broader sense of co-operation between nations. The airshow should be more thought of positively than just a mere expense. For example the RAF used the Grob tutor for displaying a few years ago suggesting that young people would be inspired to take up flying. Inspired by a Grob Tutor? I think not, people are inspired by the Fighters, Transports and other types. Lets be honest the expense of displaying x2 Tornados or a Typhoon is the absolute minimal of expense compared to the waste spent on these conflicts. If anything i would have thought airshow participation would have increased to improve public relations considering that taxpayers money is being spent on conflicts that seem to have no end. It is not much to ask of the armed forces (and this i mean mainly the RAF,RN, ARMY) to put on a display that makes those airshows so much better.

And thank god for the civilians that do privately own hunters,spitfires, meteors, vampires, venoms and of course the vulcan. What would the airshow be without them. However I am suggesting that the airshow quality would be so much more better if the CAA were to relax its rules on what privately owned aircraft it allows to be flown. For example the Buccanneers and Lightnings here in Britain were always hoped to be flown privately in this country, however the rules currently do not appear to allow that. Mark Hannah famously wanted to privately opearate the F-4 phantom at Duxford, but never attempted as the CAA would never allow it. The Sea Vixen was anotehr classic example, because of CAA rules, this then classed the Sea Vixen to insurers the equivalent to a 737! The CAA is restricting the potential of airshows. The vulcan has been an exception, and in some cases its quite an unfair exception as their are many in Britain who have desires to put hawks, jaguars, lightning, buccaneers and other such types into the air but are not allowed because of restritions

I think the argument here is that people are getting angry at the fact that the quality of the airshow is decreasing, air arms do not seemed to be worried about public relations or their presense, but airshows venues such as Waddington and Fairford charge unreasonable prices for what is considered not really much of a display. Lets be honest people would say "well your paying to see the vulcan and other etc.." but why pay so much when you can attend an open airshow and see aircraft that are not much different. If people are paying a lot of money for an airshow they expect that airshow to be of better quality i.e. value for money.

The airshow may not die soon, but as there becomes less and less avialble, the appeal of seeing a few "pup-pup" aircraft for £50 would soon lose its appeal and how far would they go to suggesting that with airshow attendences down, is it even economical to hold it. Look at North Weald, it had a brilliant airshow, even hosted what is now the RIAT, but they stopped the airshow completely as the weekend market made more money that the airshow. A symbol of the future maybe?

Laurie Stokes said on the 29-Aug-2011 at 11:34

Like many of the comments here I too was not impressed with this years RIAT and passed my thoughts onto the RIAT orginisers.Firstly, why was Alexander Burke there? and why were the organisers making such a big thing of it?...lack of Aircraft maybe!
I reminded them that RIAT was the success it was due to the fact that many true aviation enthusiasts had attended and supported the show
for many years..through rain and shine and that iti is these people that the show should cater for, not for people wha want to attend a county fayre or "musical gig". Having seen the report and pictures for Yeovilton I would say this appeared to be the better show over RIAT.
And yes, it would appear that a lot of effort seems to be aimed at people who would prefer to have Salmon & cucumber sandwiches, Canapes and Champagne in a big, warm dry marquee (right on the crowdline) than those who are there for the Airshow.

Ben Newson said on the 21-Sep-2011 at 19:09

Thought it was a brilliant display to be fair , Despite the weather trying to spoil things we came out on top and they showed us a brilliant display thought everything was organised well
Hopefully be back next year.

chris albutt said on the 8-Oct-2011 at 13:30

I have attended the IAT/RIAT every year since the very first on held at Greenham Common, and over the last few years I have found the show to be very good but not as good as years before, and I find the whole event to be very catch penny, the RIAT staff being interested in money and money making far more than the putting on an air show.

Over the last few years I have stopped going into the show on the air show days, has I found the parking of the static aircraft to be an afterthought and they have been that badly parked that it is impossible to get a good photo of them. Then the crowd line is populated by food stalls and tents which block the view of the runway, however the last straw was 2007 when my son had his legs under the rope on the crowd line, and a RIAT staff member came up to him and told him put is legs back under the rope he was rude and more or less showing how important he was, and yes I do understand the need for safety.

I have now go in on the Thursday, Friday, Monday, and in one of the fields surrounding the base, for the display days, and I enjoy doing it this way far more than I used to going into the public days. I did notice one thing this year that the grandstands that you can see, where quite empty and I am unsure if this was due to the weather or the price that is being charged, I do think that the RIAT is quite expensive these days, especially if compared it to the price when it was first started, but then if you look at other events or even football matches then I think it still gives value for money.

One last point, up to this year I have always purchased my tickets for the arrival and departure days in advance, however this year I didn't, for one simple reason, you had the choose of either buying your tickets on the day or in advance, once you had put the booking and postage fees on top of the advanced ticket price then they worked out more expensive than paying on the day, this must be the only event where buying ticket in advance works out more expensive than paying on the day.

On the whole I think this year's RIAT was on the best few a years, and was only let down by the weather on the Saturday and Sunday, which you can't really blame RIAT for.

Bart Dijkstra said on the 8-Dec-2011 at 09:50

It was our first time at RIAT, coming from Amsterdam in Holland we had to travel some time to get to Fairford but i must say it was worth every time travelled and penny spend.
when we arrived on saterday the constant raining emidiatly stopped and we were on our way of having a great day at Fairford.
Ofcourse the typhoon from the UK and our dutch orange F16 were instand crowdpleasers but i also loved to see my first set of A-10 thunderbolts in the skies over Fairford. On the ground the Su-27 was a very immpressive piece of machinery.
Offcourse the Vulcan was a real head-turner for everyone in the crowd and was awesome to see and hear!
A very good day at the RIAT!!!!

Brad said on the 20-Dec-2011 at 14:52

I cant believe some of these comments. The show was absolutely crap!!! Nothing to do with the weather, nothing of any worth flew... I had'nt been to Fairford for some years. I stopped going as it was getting worse and worse some 6yrs ago. Poor value for money. I wish I hadn't bothered. Never again. Far better shows, far better value for money, elsewhere within the UK and easily accessible abroad.

Chris St Clair said on the 14-Mar-2012 at 13:08

I have been lucky enough to attend the RIAT on and off since 1983 and have memories of lines of C-135s and C-130s stretching into the distance.

Over the last few years, the draw-down of military forces has been obvious as the quantity of aircraft displayed at the RIAT has decreased, and to a certain extent, the organisers cannot be blamed for this.

However, I had to struggle to justify attending in 2011 and the only reason I did was the attendance by the F-22. Whilst this was well worth the visit, I was extremely disappointed by the dearth of aircraft in the static, and everyone I spoke to had similar views.

I do wonder if the increasing numbers of non-aircraft exhibits and vendors are actually there to hide the lack of aviation exhibits, and it is obvious that the numbers of civilian displays now vastly outnumber the military ones.

The increasing cost of attending the display combined with the huge queues and the RIAT organiser's attitude towards cancelling the flying display at a whim makes it difficult to justify attending in the future.

Having said that, whilst I personally have no plans to attend in 2012, I can understand the approach being taken to the display, where it is being promoted as a family day out rather than an enthusiast's event. However, how many families can afford to spend £200 for a day out - by the time you have paid for tickets, petrol and food I would doubt a family of 4 would have much change left...

Steve Murray said on the 21-Jul-2013 at 11:34

Visited RIAT for first time for years. As an ex RAF man, I was very disappointed at the standard of dress as worn by the numerous RAF Support staff. RIAT is a showcase for aviation and all that is associated with it. Please, please chaps, remember where you are and whom you represent! The display? Brilliant! But once again, the traders are allowed to get away with charging extortinate prices for their wares, especially the Caterers. Some kind of pricing control needs to be in place to prevent us punters being ripped off on a very expensive day out.

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