It has taken a while to process some of the pictures from this year's Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT 2019) at Fairford in Gloucestershire here in the UK. This is the big airshow of the year and I always over-indulge myself in pictures of fast jets and of the various rarities that turn up. This year was no exception, but, more so even than in previous years, I came back feeling super-saturated with aircraft, to the point that it took me a good month even to psych myself up to seriously look at the files. Partly that was because I had an amazing – and new – experience on Skomer immediately before RIAT that dominated my interest; partly, this is about my twelfth year in a row, so the excitement naturally dwindles a bit. Anyhow, I've now processed enough to start an album on Flickr. As you can see from the pictures, the weather was mostly grey, with low, undifferentiated clouds and little light. Pretty much typical RIAT weather, really.
Having said that, there were some aircraft I'd never seen before: top of these was the Romanian Mig-21, a cold war fighter as old as I am, and still able to zip around the sky with a trail of afterburner diamonds (unlike me…).
Among others I'd also never seen (at least that I can remember) was the Canadian Aurora sub-hunter.
The Harrier is an aircraft much missed in UK skies, so it was wonderful that the Spanish Navy brought two examples of the AV-8 over.
Likewise, the F-4 Phantom has been gone from the UK skies for a long time. Previously, the Greek Air Force has brought over some of theirs. This year, the Turkish Air Force brought over two.
The USAF showed their Viper display. They used a stock F-16 from the big front-line base at Spangdahlem in Germany. The pilot put on a wonderful, highly kinetic display. Unfortunately, his right horizontal stabilizer delaminated during his display on the Sunday, so the display under low cloud was cut short. I heard some criticism that he'd flown the aircraft too hard: but, were I a pilot at Spangdahlem, I'd be highly concerned about the state of the aircraft I was asked to fly operationally, if flying them hard for a few minutes breaks them.
The Italian display team, the Frecce Tricolori were at RIAT this year. The opening picture shows one of their classic moves, where the singleton zooms up underneath the main body of the team in an inverted V formation. In another of their favourite display elements, the singleton zooms to the top of a climb, slows to stationary, and then tail slides before flipping back to normal flight.
Most of the pictures here were taken with a Nikon D500 and the Nikon 500mm PF lens that I had also taken to Skomer and to the preceding airshow at the Shuttleworth collection. Others were taken with the D810 and 70-200, with or without the TC-20E III. That 500PF … wow. I mean ... just ... wow! There is nothing else like it. I may write something separate about it another time.
To finish, here are a few more favourites.