Sunday, 13 July 2014

Celebrating 50 years

Friday we went to the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford, where they were celebrating 50 seasons of the Red Arrow display team. Being a little past our first flush of youth and beginning to find standing for long periods on uneven ground more of a chore than it once was, we booked a ticket that included The Cotswold Club enclosure. This provided tables and chairs arranged right up to the edge of the display area, so no need to carry our camping chairs. They also included a brunch in the ticket, so early risers could get something to eat after travelling to the show. We only live a few miles away, within earshot of the show in fact, so travel is not a great problem but once a year on International Tattoo days, we try not to go anywhere near Fairford. During the run up to the show and the three days it is open to the public, most of the roads around the area are either restricted to official use, turned into a one way system or closed altogether. The main A419/417 dual carriageway which runs from Gloucestershire to the M4 motorway is always busy at any time and during the show has special lanes put in place to guide through traffic around the queues. Fairford is within what is known as the Cotswolds and most of the lanes around the small picturesque town of Fairford and the nearby villages are not built for heavy traffic, being quite narrow and winding country lanes, so when a couple of hundred thousand people start to arrive for the show, it gets more than a bit busy. Friday is a good day to go because although the show is not fully open, there is much less traffic and arriving and departing is much less hassle. We were early enough to miss most of the traffic, but the organisation of the pedestrian access to the entrances from the car park was not very good and we twice found ourselves in the wrong queue for our particular entry ticket.
Once inside we were then able to stroll through the display area and look at the static displays until we decided to go to our enclosure to sit down.

On display were old aircraft
 and the Red Arrows,
   very old aircraft
 and the Red Arrows,

shiny aircraft
 and the Red Arrows,
  ugly aircraft
 and the Red Arrows,

unusual aircraft
 and the Red Arrows.
Happy iarcraft
 and, all together now...

The Red Arrows
 Whilst we were looking at the static display and before the Red Arrows took to the air up in the sky there were powerful jets, roaring until your ears rattled, climbing out of sight and zooming back again,

helicopters that could turn upside down,

huge aircraft carrying out aerobatics that no giant cargo carrying aircraft should be able to do, but which would be very handy if they were supplying a war zone

and eventually the long awaited Red Arrows.  To mark the anniversary, the first flight was accompanied by one aircraft from four different display teams from other countries, flown by their team leaders.
The four guest aircraft with the Red Arrows
After a flyby in formation, the guest aircraft left the display and landed whilst the nine Red Arrows circled around and waited for another display to finish and then put on their 50th season display, which was amazing.

Around half four, still high on spectacular aviation, we slowly walked the mile along the display stands and then back to the car park and home.


  1. It's years since I went to an airshow. Back when I was a trainee journalist in Lincolnshire and the UK still had lots of RAF stations I saw the Red Arrows nine times in one season. I could almost recite the commentary by the end of that summer!

  2. I love the Red Arrows and the Golden Arrows (Canada) and the Blue Angels (U.S.). The Blue Angels will be performing here sometime in September I think. Good idea of yours to get a place to sit.

  3. Those are some stunning scenes, snafu!

  4. Yay! Finally I am able to comment!