On a pleasant Thursday morning the Events Team rolled into the village for the Royal International Air Tattoo. The date 14th July, the location RAF Fairford, the objective to support the aims of the Trust through interaction with the general public. Why was this event so different from previous… Well it will have been the first RIAT since 2019 due to the restrictions of the pandemic.
So really nobody knew what was going to happen, the organisers had said it was a sell out for the three public days, but then that is not uncommon. The weather forecast looked favourable so that was good, we had managed to get a respectable level of stock in place so all things being equal we seemed to be set fair.
Our location was carried over from 2019 in what RIAT call the Red Zone, which basically means the centre of the crowd accessible area, right in front of the Control Tower.
So after a bit of maneuvering the Event Unit was in place and all set fair for the next three days. Time to repair to the hotel for a meal and rest. There are those who believe that attendance at an airshow is a nice little jolly for the team, an opportunity to sit back and watch the displays, take a few photos and generally put your feet up… Ha ha you must be joking.
Rising at 05.30 to be on the airfield by 07.00 hrs, ready to trade by 07.30 hrs is the reality, and then you face the prospect of nearly 12 hours of nonstop trading, answering questions, including even 7 years after XH558 stopped flying “what time is she displaying”… Covid has a lot to answer for.
So Friday came and went, renamed SKD, Super Kids Day as it seemed that every school or children’s organisation for a 100 mile radius was in attendance not forgetting Air Cadets. So with two days still to go the Team retired to the hotel. Now it should be said we have used the Campanile Hotel in Swindon for over 8 years and so they know us well they know the timings are crazy for meals and they always manage to provide us with a first-rate service.
So, Saturday dawned, another early start but this time with an additional hurdle to overcome, heat. The weather forecast was for record temperatures and so it turned out. Lots of water to drink, lots of people seeking shade, sales of hoodies rather low! Not really a surprise but made up for by a complete sellout of every umbrella, sorry sunshade, that we took all 50 of them. “Buy now, collect when you leave” plan put in place as lugging larger items around not really practical, and so the day went on. Displays… Sorry didn’t see any, heard a few. As a comment the F-35B is not stealthy especially in the hover!
So time for bed the little one said… Only to be re-awakened Sunday at 05.30 the following morning to do it all again and this time with the thought that we had to pack up at the end of the day, and it got hotter. There were on the Sunday perhaps even more visitors seeking respite from the heat. Now we should point at this point to those who have never visited an airshow, airfields don’t have much shade. They are flat desolate areas of concrete, tarmac and grass, trees there are none, so at an airshow the shade comes in the form of exhibitors like ourselves. This should mean a steady supply of visitors looking at the wares for sale and it does. We should also point out that our Event Unit is black which tends to mean it acts as an oven. Fortunately the Sunday had a little more breeze and so we stayed cool. So come 19.30 hours and it was all over, time to pack up and see if we could get back to our homes before turning into pumpkins… Think Cinderella.
Well, I hear you comment “what about the displays?” The consensus from those who managed to catch the odd one or two were generally quite good. There were exceptions. Outstanding is the only way to describe the Black Eagles – the Republic of Korea Air Force aerobatic team who won the best display award closely followed by Frecce Tricolori The Italian Air Force aerobatic team. These two teams gave performances which show why airshows remain popular and why if you get the chance attend one with them on display you won’t regret it.
And so to home…
Oh yes and to count the remaining stock to return it to our Webstore, check and bank takings, and yes, get some sleep whilst starting to think about the next show, a slightly calmer affair at Abingdon Air and Country Show on September 10th near Oxford.