What & When?

RIAT – The greatest air show in the world

Aerial shot of a previous RIAT

The first Air Tattoo was staged at North Weald Airfield in Essex in 1971, with just over 100 aircraft taking part. The event was founded by Paul Bowen and Timothy Prince, who were CAA air traffic controllers, and Air Marshal Sir Denis Crowley-Milling.

Tim Prince OBE

From 1973 to 1983 it was held intermittently at RAF Greenham Common, initially under the title of the Royal Air Forces Association, South Eastern Area, Air Tattoo before moving to RAF Fairford in 1985.

The show became the International Air Tattoo in 1976, and recognition of its unique status was granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1996, when the current Royal International Air Tattoo title was adopted. The show took place at Fairford every two years until it became an annual show from 1993.

The event has had a number of air show firsts, including the first display and landing of the B-2A Spirit stealth bomber outside the USA during the 1997 “50 Years of the USAF” event and in 2008 the first landing of the Lockheed F-22 Raptor in Europe.

The 2022 Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) was triumphantly back at RAF Fairford over the very hot weekend of July 15-17 for the first time since 2019. All three days of the show were sold out in advance with Friday’s exclusive preview day showcasing the highlights of the weekend and welcoming around 6,000 school children to enjoy interesting and educational activities. Both Saturday and Sunday featured over eight hours of awe-inspiring flying from the world’s best display teams.

The airshow welcomed 266 aircraft and 1,500 crew members from across the globe. Visitors included representatives from the Kingdom of Bahrain and even claimed its first ever appearance by A-list aviation enthusiast and Top Gun star, Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise surprises crowds at RIAT 2022

The main theme for RIAT 2022 was celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the US Air Force and the operational theme was Training the Next Generation Air Force with a specific focus on sustainability.

RIAT works hard to inspire children and young people to develop their interests. The Tattoo weekend isn’t just a breath-taking display of aircraft technology and skill, it’s also the place where many young people get their first taste of something that could shape their future careers.

Some of the showground attractions included the Techno Zone to inspire the new generation of engineers and aviators; the RAF Experience, showcasing the RAF today and its current operations and equipment; the Village Green with themed performers, dancers, re-enactors, historic aircraft and vehicles, vintage traders and tea-room; the Activity Zone with a great selection of attractions suitable for all the family including a range of have-a-go activities, rides and novelty experiences and, of course, an incredible range of static aircraft.

One of the aircraft in the static display

Stunning flying displays featuring aircraft from around the world including the Italian Airforce Eurofighter Typhoon; the F-16 Fighting Falcon; the Royal Jordanian Falcons; the Battle of Britain flight with the Avro Lancaster, Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire; and new for this year – the Black Eagles from the Republic of Korea; the Silver Swallows, Frecce Tricolori and, of course, the world-famous Red Arrows.

Tickets for next year are already on sale: https://www.airtattoo.com/tickets.


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