130,000 visitors descend on Fairford as Red Arrows celebrate 50th year
5:30am Monday 14th July 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
THE skies above Fairford boomed with the sound of jet engines over the weekend as the Royal International Air Tattoo wowed a sell-out crowd.
Lucky visitors on Saturday were able to bask in glorious sunshine and, while it was a little cloudier on Sunday, it did nothing to dampen spirits.
People of all ages were thrilled by jet engines from around the world, as well as exciting helicopter displays and some impressive manoeuvres from the gigantic Airbus.
Aerobatic display teams from as far afield as Switzerland, Poland, Italy and Jordan performed death-defying stunts throughout the day.
However, the stars of the show were the Red Arrows, celebrating their 50th anniversary year.
For almost half an hour the sky was filled with the iconic red, blue and white smoke as planes came from all directions to put on a display worthy of the world’s number one aerobatic team.
Thousands of people visited over the course of the weekend. Chris Griffiths, 42, had travelled from Bristol with his 10-year-old son, Jack.
He said: “This is the second time we have come to Fairford and it’s been great both times. There is always lots to do and Jack loves watching all the planes.
“All the staff have been really helpful which helps make the day.
“We’ve been really lucky with the weather both years as well.”
Jack said: “My favourite are the Red Arrows or the Apache show. I want to be a pilot when I’m older but I don’t know what I want to fly.”
Fairford is the world’s largest military airshow. Michael Chambers, 53, travelled down from London with his two sons, Anthony, 11, and Shawn, 14 to see it. He said: “This is the first time we have come down but we’ve all enjoyed ourselves. We’ve just been wandering around having a look at all the ground displays while the shows have been going on.
“The displays have been very loud but some of them have been absolutely brilliant.”
RIAT chief executive Tim Prince said: “I am delighted the weather has been so good and all the hard work of the volunteers has paid off.
“We have some fantastic planes on show, both on the ground and in the air, and it is an honour to be asked to be part of the Red Arrows 50th anniversary.
“It is slightly disappointing the F-35 Lightning II was not here but that is just the way of aviation.
“Over the course of the weekend we expect to see more than 130,000 people come through the gates.”
Tim has been involved with the air show for 43 years and this year will be his last, as he is retiring.
“I think I am going to miss the camaraderie of it all,” he said.
“Everyone does so much to make this event such a success every year and there is a great team spirit. Next year I’ll be buying a ticket and coming along with everyone else, no doubt thinking how I would do things differently.”
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