The 50th Display Season of the Red Arrows was the main theme at this year's Royal International Air Tattoo. The celebrations initiated a new three-day display format with a special public "Pit Day" held on the Friday afternoon. Other themes included "Partnership" and "40th Anniversary" of both the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the BAE Hawk jet.
Royal International Air Tattoo 2014, Great Britain
Despite so many exotic types attending this year's show the headlines from the event were ironically made by an aircraft that was unable to attend - the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. Still in its operational evaluation phase of development the aircraft was due to make its first overseas deployment until an F-35A type suffered a major engine fire only weeks before the show at RIAT. Inevitably this led to the suspension of flights until an investigation was carried out and a solution found.
However, this year's show is one the organisers can be proud of. The pair of Polish Air Force Sukhoi Su-22M4-K "Fitter" strike aircraft were the overall show highlight for many. The pair flew a relatively simply sequence starting with formations showing the various wing sweep angles before entering more of role demonstration of various tactics employed by the type. The participation of any Cold War era Soviet built aircraft is what the Air Tattoo has really been about for many years and the sight of these types flown over British skies will always attract the enthusiasts attention.
Invitations to attend the airshow were sent around the world's air forces. Participants included a very rare Boeing 767 from the Japanese Air Self Defence Force, A-7 Corsair II's from the Greek Air Force which are due to be retired towards the end of the year, and a pair of cold war SU-22 Fitters from the Polish Air Force. They were joined by aircraft from the United States and more familiar European nations to make up the world's largest military aviation festival.
Many thanks to the RIAT team for organising a fantastic show.