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International Air Tattoo 2003 - ePHOTOzine member, Barry Thomas visits this year's International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford
Over the years the event has become bigger and bigger and now proudly boasts that it is the biggest airshow in Europe, if not the world. For many people, its July, therefore its Fairford and the ring around the last weekend in July just cant come soon enough.
The event is now so vast that its almost impossible to see everything in one day. Besides the vast lines of static aircraft to look at and photograph, and pilots to talk to, there are also large areas of Navy, Army and Air Force displays and exhibitions to walk around. Added to this ever growing list of things to do are large areas of concessions selling anything and everything from garden gnomes to aircraft parts, but of course the main reason that people go is for the eigth hour flying display.
Each year the show takes one or two themes as its main focus of attention and this year was no exception. The main themes were Ocean Watch and 100 Years of Flight.
Ocean Watch was a meeting of Maritime Squadrons and Units from around the world, at atime when constant vigilance over the seas is vital to world security.
100 Years of Flight In December 1903 American bicycle-maker Orville Wright pioneered a century of aviation with a 12 second, 120 feet flight, opening the door to long-haul air travel and the exploration of space. 2003 marks 100 Years of Powered Flight. This momentous anniversary was celebrated with a static display of aircraft and equipment, emphasising how the British military requirement has contributed to progress in aviation in the past 100 years. I have to say that this exhibition alone was worth the price of admission.
As it was mentioned earlier, for many the event lasts much longer than just two days. That was certainly the case for myself and ephotozine members, Paul Rainford and Timbo as we arrived on the Wednesday prior to the show. There wasnt time to make arrangements to meet up with Timbo, Paul and I and our respective partners met up frequently during the show to toast the success of the tattoo and anything else we could think of.
Some time ago a local farmer had the idea to let out some of his fields that run along the airfield perimeter. He creates a very well equipped temporary campsite complete with toilets, showers, a shop and a bar.
Paul and I are already making plans for next year and hopefully the weather will be as good as it was for this years event.