PREVIEW: Royal International Air Tattoo 2018

Introduction: the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the world’s largest military airshow. Held over three days at RAF Fairford, the 2018 show will be the RAF’s main 100th anniversary event, attracting hundreds of aircraft from around the world. It will be held from Friday 13th-Sunday 15th July. The official website is airtattoo.com.

Visitor information: all three days will feature upwards of eight hours of flying displays for the first time. The Friday show will include an additional RAF100 flypast and Royal Review. Visitors can enjoy rehearsals and arrivals from the Park and View enclosures on Wednesday and Thursday, and the departures on Monday. The popular FRIAT “Mach 3” package allows access to the FRIAT grandstand from Wednesday to Monday. Many visitors choose to camp at nearby campsites for the entire week of the show to ensure they don’t miss any of the action!

Tickets: RIAT is a ticketed event. E-tickets can be purchased from the show’s official website, with standard ticket prices increasing incrementally from £45 to £55, with small discounts for multi-day ticket purchases. Under-18s go free. Further ticketing options are available, with access to exclusive enclosures or grandstands and food and beverage options, with upgrades starting at £30 and the most expensive options priced at over £500 per day. The popular FRIAT package – a firm favourite with spotters – sold out before the new year. Spectators can watch arrivals, rehearsals and departures from designated Park and View enclosures before and after the show, with tickets costing between £10 and £20 per day.

Tips: if traveling by car, aim to arrive before 8:00am to avoid queues. You will have to arrive at least this early if you want a crowdline spot. The blue entry gate is the best for those wanting to be near show centre. It is advisable to bring food and drink due to the cost of on-site offerings. Buying tickets early will save on cost. As the flying display will differ slightly between days, multi-day stays are recommended; with limited nearby hotel accommodation, camping near the show site is a must. RIAT has an official campsite south of the show area, but unofficial campsites such as the infamous Totterdown Hill Campsite under the display box or Townsend Farm Campsite under the approach path are cheaper and also offer an excellent view of the flying activities. Many of these campsites will sell out months in advance of the show.

2017 show: RIAT 2017 was the USAF’s official 75th anniversary show in Europe. It featured strong support from that air arm, not least the six F-16s of the Thunderbirds, F-22 Raptor and a surprise flypast by a B-2 Spirit. The USAFE mounted an additional flypast comprising several of the aircraft types they frequently operate. Other highlights included the UK debut of Couteau Delta, first British display on over a decade of the Midnight Hawks and a rare appearance of a Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker. It was widely considered one of the best RIATs so far this decade.

2018 show: this year’s show is all about the RAF’s centenary, and it’s sure to attract a huge number of aircraft from air forces all over the world. We’re also hoping from strong RAF participation, despite a noticeable drop in recent years. it is likely that most of Europe’s best-known display teams will participate in the show, along with some from further afield. The static display is already being mooted as larger than usual, with off-site carparks being allocated to make room for additional aircraft. Keep up to date with the latest confirmations below!

Our coverage: we will provide live updates and photographs during the arrivals from Tuesday afternoon through to Thursday night. After the show, a written and illustrated report featuring photos from all three show days will be published. We will also be producing a 1-hour video report of the event, shot during the entire week, featuring interviews and cockpit footage.

Confirmed aircraft:

Royal Air Force:

  • Red Arrows x9 Hawk T.1 (F) TBC
  • RAF100 Royal Review aircraft TBC (FP)
  • F-35B Lightning II JSF (F) TBC

Swiss Air Force:

  • PC-7 Team x9 PC-7 (F)
  • F-18C Hornet (F)

Royal Canadian Air Force:

  • CF-188A Hornet (F)

Civilian:

  • Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron Vampire T.55 & Vampire FB.52 (F) TBC

  (F) – Flying     (S) – Static      (FP) – Flypast     (F/S) – Flying & Static      (M) – Mock-up      (SP) – Support   (R) – Rides    (?) – Participation unknown     “TBC” – not officially confirmed     “aircraft” – Cancelled