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Posted on Nov 26, 2006 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Royal International Air Tattoo 2006

By Phil Royal

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The Royal International Air Tattoo held at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England is undoubtedly the Mecca for the UK-based aircraft enthusiast – and for quite a few from further shores! Organised by the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises, the annual event attracts aircraft old and new from around the world, with 2 days of intensive flying (from 10am to 6pm if everything runs to the tight schedule) and acres of leg-tiring static exhibits. You really need to go both days to make the most of it – plus if you have the energy you can also attend 2 arrivals/practice days before the show, and the Monday departures day!

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Unlike Farnborough which is very commercially focused, RIAT is a pure enthusiast’s show, and there is always something unusual to be seen. This year’s show, held over the weekend of 15th/16th July, included static and display aircraft both just coming into service and just retiring, from a number of national air forces. As seems to be the tradition with this event the weather was hot, hot, hot, and so was the flying!

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Mig 29 OVT climbing away

 It’s difficult to put your finger on the highlight of the 2006 show. The awesome demonstration of the effectiveness of vectored thrust couldn’t help but make a big impression, with a stunning show from the Russian Aircraft Corporations Mig 29 OVT. Manoeuvrable is not a sufficiently apt description, and frankly at times it was a wonder the aircraft actually needed aerodynamic lift. Back flips, twists, turns – you name it, we saw it all.

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Hard bank to starboard… … then nose up and… stop.

A similarly dynamic show was put on by the US Navy with their F/A-18F Super Hornet, but the general consensus was that the Mig used its wings the least.

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F/A-18F on takeoff … and flyby.

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