(text and pictures by Paolo Rollino/Aviation Reports)

The Royal International Air Tattoo - RIAT 2023 took place at RAF Fairford, Glouchestershire, on 14th, 15th and 16th July. The meeting can very well be considered as the largest aeronautical show within Europe (but probably all over the World).
The event was also given the Royal seal of approval as The Prince and Princess of Wales visited on Friday, joining over 200,000 people who contributed to the biggest RIAT attendance to date, with over 250 aircraft take part in either the flying or static display.
The flying programme was also impressive, with no less than seven hours a day of continuous displays of jets, aerobatic teams, tankers, helicopters, historic aircraft, ...: the absolute firsts for the RIAT this year were the Swedish Gripen E, the RAF F-35B and the Me.262 (replica) from Flugmuseum Messerscmitt in Manching.
The only negative note was represented by the very variable weather conditions - but after all we are in Great Britain! - which on more than one occasion forced the public to open their umbrellas and wear rain jackets, but which didn't actually affected the airshow.







The main theme of the event - SKYTANKER 2023 - was the 100th anniversary of the first in-flight refuelling, which took place on 27 June 1923, when an Airco DH-4B transferred fuel to another DH-4B, flying beneath them. The two planes were piloted by Lt. Hine and Lt. Smith and the 'on-board operators' were Seifert and Richter; these latter two used a 50-foot hose, with manually-operated quick-acting valves at each end, and were able to transfer approximately 75 gallons of fuel.
IMHO, the participation of tankers in the event was quite limited, perhaps justified by the fact that many of these are daily heavily busy in operational tasks.
The secondary theme of RIAT 2023 was the 100 years of Italian Air Force - Aeronautica Militare, officially created on 28 March 1923 as an independent service by King Vittorio Emanuele III of the Kingdom of Italy, and known as Regia Aeronautica.
A very large ground exhibition area was specifically set up to show some of the Italian Air Force aircraft, while ample space was also given to a representative of around twenty historic aircraft, which in a more or less recent past, flew with the Italian roundels. In the flying programme took the air daily an F.2000A and an M-346A with the insignia of the Test Unit (Reparto Sperimentale Volo) and with the tail painted to commemorate the 100's anniversary, and the HH-139B of the 15th Wing. Here too, a small disappointment for the public, as the Frecce Tricolori did not participate, because - to worthily celebrate the 100th anniversary of the AM - it was preferred to create a calendar with air displays and overflights only in Italy.

        * The RUAG Trophy (awarded to the overall winner of the Concours d'Elegance)
                SIAI-Marchetti U-208A - Italian Air Force/60 Stormo
        * The Spirit of the Meet Trophy (awarded to the participant who embodies the spirit of the Air Tattoo)
                The Italian Air Force & Italian Historic Aircraft Group
        *The RAFCTE Trophy (best flight demonstration by a foreign participant)
                AH-129D - Italian Army Aviation/49 Gruppo Squadroni
        * The As the Crow Flies Trophy (best overall flying demonstration, judged by FRIAT)
                French Air Force Rafale Solo Display, flown by Capitaine Bertrand "Bubu" Butin, wich also won
        * The Sir Douglas Bader Trophy (best Individual Flying Display)

Next year the Air Tattoo will return on 19th, 20th and 21st July and will celebrate 50 years of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.


2023©Paolo Rollino/pierrestudio