The Royal International Air Tattoo Returns in 2022

RAF FAIRFORD, ENGLAND – Good news for aviation lovers in the UK and Europe – the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) announced today that it will return this Summer, after an absence on the international airshow calendar for 2 years. RIAT 2019 was the last airshow before the Covid-19 pandemic would rage over the world. As a result many airshows in Europe and worldwide were canceled in 2020 and 2021. The organization will be announcing its first confirmed aircraft next month.

The Royal International Air Tattoo – also known as RIAT – will return in 2022 from 15-17 July. According to the organization the show will be similar in scale to the 2019 airshow.

The organization shares on its website that Friday will be the preview day as usual with a 4 hour flying display. Saturday and Sunday will both be full show days.

RIAT 2022 will also celebrate a very special anniversary in spectacular style – the United States Air Force’s 75th Anniversary. In addition, RIAT’s operational theme for this year will be ‘Training the Next Generation Air Force’.

The World’s Greatest Airshow

For decades now the show has gained much in popularity amongst avgeeks in Europe, but also worldwide.

The Royal International Air Tattoo calls itself ‘The World’s Greatest Airshow’, and probably it is. Many aviation enthusiasts from America and Canada will probably say that the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh – held each summer at Wittman Regional Airport and adjacent Pioneer Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in the U.S. – is the greatest airshow in the world. RIAT certainly is the show with the greatest variety in exciting militairy aircraft from around the world during full show days with an impressive 7 hours of awesome flying displays.

Special participants

Many Air Arms from around the world put the Royal International Air Tattoo at the top of their list, when it comes to deciding where to demonstrate their aircraft’s capabilities and the professionalism of their aircrew.

For example in 2019, 245 aircraft – from 39 air arms representing 25 nations from around the globe – touched down at RAF Fairford for the unique airshow, making it the best place to view an incredible range of military fixed wing and rotary aircraft, both static as also flying aircraft. Also the best spectacular demonstration teams are present every show.

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The theme of RIAT 2019 was ‘Air and Space: Inspiring the Next Generation Air Force’. Video:
The Royal International Air Tattoo

The show has had a number of aircraft participating for the first time ever at a show in Europe, such as the first appearance of the B-2 Spirit outside the U.S. in 1997, and the first landing of the F-22 Raptor in Europe in 2008. In 2014 the F-35 Lightning II was supposed to have its first presentation outside the U.S., but was canceled due to engine problems of the aircraft. It eventually made its first debut outside the U.S. in Europe at the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) ‘Luchtmachtdagen’ at Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands in june 2016 with the RNLAF’s first two F-35A fighter jets. A month later, in July 2016, the F-35 finally made its debut at RIAT with a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B participating in the flying display.

History of RIAT

The first RIAT was held in 1971 at North Weald Airfield. In the years of 1973-1983 the show was hosted at RAF Greenham Common, and in 1985 the show was held at RAF Fairford. A year later, in 1986, the name was changed to International Air Tattoo and in 1996 Queen Elizabeth authorized it to be called the Royal International Air Tattoo.

Until 1993 the show was held every 2 years, but from then on it became an annual event. Due to maintenance work at RAF Fairford, the show was held at RAF Cottesmore in 2000 and 2001. The 2003 edition was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest military air show in the world with 535 aircraft participating at the show.

Historic Airshow Season

This year will be a historic year during the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. After 2 years of absence this will be a show to remember and a show to celebrate, not only in relation to the USAF’s 75th anniversary, but also to the fact that the pandemic is hopefully losing its strength and intensity, resulting in more freedom for us all, also in relation to airshows we have been missing for the past 2 years.

One thing’s for sure, we are definitely looking forward to visit the Royal International Air Tattoo again this year – the world’s greatest airshow!


Head image: © The Royal International Air Tattoo

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