Royal International Air Tattoo draws record visitors to RAF Fairford
By Maj. Richard Komurek, U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa
/ Published July 19, 2018
RAF FAIRFORD, U.K. -- The 2018 Royal International Air Tattoo, held here from July 13th to 14th, attracted a record 185,000 visitors for a weekend full of aviation displays, aerial acrobatics, and events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force.
The U.S. Air Force made a strong showing in 2018 with the F-35A, KC-135, MC-130J, F-15E and F-15C, B-1B, C-17, HH-60G and KC-10. Special for this year were aerial performances by the U.S. Air Force F-35 Heritage Flight Team and a surprise flyby of a B-2 Spirit which flew direct from the U.S. to the skies above RAF Fairford to commemorate the RAF centennial.
While RIAT is famous for its impressive flying displays, the significance of it being the largest military airshow in the world goes far beyond entertainment for the public. The airshow also serves as a hub for aerospace excellence where leaders from both military and civilian aviation gather to discuss air power and the future of aviation. In total, the Air Tattoo hosted 79 military delegations including 64 military chiefs from around the world.
“In addition to wonderful aircraft displays and demonstrations, RIAT provides an opportunity for international aviators and air chiefs to discuss, promote and showcase military aviation, which is important to improving our capabilities,” said Gen.Tod Wolters, USAFE-AFAFRICA commander. “It’s also great to be here with the Royal Air Force to celebrate their 100th Anniversary and honor our shared commitment to the values of peace, security and prosperity.”
Annual participation in RIAT not only demonstrates U.S. commitment to the security of Europe, but it also highlights the ever-strong bond between the U.S. and U.K. and the RAF and the USAF.
"Our participation in the Royal International Air Tattoo each year highlights the rock-solid partnership we have with the U.K. and the Royal Air Force." said Brig. Gen. Andrew Hansen, Director of USAFE-UK at RAF Mildenhall, U.K. "I'd like to thank all of the USAFE personnel from our bases in the U.K. who helped support this outstanding event that celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the RAF and brought the U.S., U.K., and other allies together to promote air power and collective defense capabilities.”
In total, 302 aircraft, from 43 air arms representing 30 nations attended the airshow, of which 121 took part in the flying displays.
Among the special visitors to RIAT this centennial year were Royal Family members Prince Michael of Kent and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent; Royal Air Force Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier and U.S. Air Force General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force.