The Koreans steal the show at the Royal International Air Tattoo
By Juri Keyter
Yes, it is the greatest military air show on the planet, but if that did not impress you, how about the fact that it had 35 participating countries? Perhaps your ears will warm up when you hear that there were 7 different military formation teams demonstrating their skills on the same day? No? Well, here is something that will get your attention:
The first jet of the air show taxied out at 09:25 and the last jet of the air show parked at 18:25!! That is 9 hours of the absolute best in military air power from around the world.
The highlight of my day was without any doubt the "The Black Eagles", an 8-ship formation team from Korea with their T-50 Golden Eagle jets. While I took photographs of them during their routine, I realised that they expand and contract their formation at the same rate and rhythm as my breathing. A change from one shape to the next was abrupt, active, crisp and precise. I was so impressed that lowered my camera so that I could witness the rest of their display through my naked eye.
The 'Frecce Tricolori Display Team from Italy was another world-class performance with their Aermacchi MB-339PAN jets. This is the largest formation team in the world with 10 jets featuring in their routine. Flying with the music of Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti in the background was absolutely fitting - a classical masterpiece. I have seen this performance a few times before and I was just as impressed and entertained as I was the first time I saw them.
Of course, the Red arrows were also there and although they rank amongst the best in the world, they sort of lost their spark. Maybe I see them too much but to me there were too many solo flying and not enough formation.
As expected, there were a large number of Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoons on static display and Typhoons from Italy, Austria, the UK and Germany flying in the air show.
All of the fighter jets on the day were noisy, but when the F16s from Belgium and Greece started their take-off roll, the noise rattled my bones. When they designed the F-16 Fighting Falcon, they had only one thing in mind: raw speed and power and this was again evident on the day.
F-18 Hornets from Switzerland and Spain also took to the sky with a super solo display by the Spaniards and an F-18 / Pilatus PC-7 formation display by the Swiss.
A Lockheed-Martin F-35B Lightning II from the RAF did a fly-past from the east, slowed down to a hover on its second pass, and then accelerated and disappeared again. A little disappointing and nothing like the Harrier displays of the past.
Military helicopters also featured, but more than usual and that was a nice change. I felt like Rambo when the Mil Mi-171 Hip and Mil Mi-24 Hind from the Czech Republic and the Mil Mi-24P Hind from Hungary attacked from the west.
I love the term “Blade Slapping” and when you hear the Boeing Chinook HC6A really working hard, you understand where this term come from. A super Chinook display by the RAF.
Sadly, the Americans shined in their absence and their only contribution worth mentioning was a Bell Boeing CV-22B Osprey.