Royal International Air Tattoo

The annual Royal International Air Tattoo is a popular family-orientated event that takes place at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. Not only is the air show the largest military air show in the world, but it is known as being one of the top outdoor family events in the United Kingdom. The event always takes place on the third weekend in July and much of the proceeds are used to support The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.

The Air Tattoo air show was started in 1971 in order to support the Royal Air Force association, and it was not originally an annual event. It was initially held at North Weald in Essex, but soon outgrew the small airfield and so the show was moved to the RAF Greenham Common near Newbury, Berkshire, in 1973. This base was operated by the United States Air Force and so it was a much larger and more appropriate venue. The Air Tattoo continued to be held at this base a further six times before the airfield was chosen to act as a cruise missile base and a new venue was needed. This time officials decided on the RAF Fairford base and this has been the choice venue for the event ever since.

The first Air Tattoo to be held at the base took place in 1985 and it continued to be held at Fairford sporadically until 1993 when it was decided that it should become an annual event. The only time it has not been held here since then was in 2000 and 2001 when the runway at RAF Fairford was undergoing much-needed repairs. The Air Tattoo gained the ‘Royal’ prefix in 1996 and has continued to go from strength to strength. The show has seen a number of air show firsts, such as the first display and landing of a B-2A Spirit to take place out of the United States. The show regularly attracts approximately 150 000 spectators and serves as an important forerunner of the bi-annual Farnborough Air Show which is held just one week later.

The 2008 Royal International Air Tattoo will take place on the 12th and 13th of July and will see the focus on two main themes. These themes are: The 90th Anniversary of the RAF and ‘Global Engagement’. The 2008 show will also see the first display of the F-22 Raptor to take place outside of the USA and fans will likely be awed at the manoeuvrability and performance of this striking military aircraft. There will also likely be more than 300 aircraft from over 20 different countries on display. So if you are able, make sure that you don’t miss out on this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo!