April 17, 2008 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Lockheed Martin/U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighter will be crossing the Atlantic for the first time in July, heading for the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford in the UK.
Vapor forms around a USAF F-22A Raptor as it flies over the 42nd Naval Base Ventura County Air Show at Point Mugu, April 1, 2007. [DoD photo by MC2 Jason R. Williams]
The aircraft will display three times at this show, but only on the opening Monday of the Farnborough Air Show that follows later that month. It will then return to the U.S.
Among those who will witness the spectacular F-22 display at RIAT will be Queen Elizabeth of England, who will be visiting on the Friday that precedes the show's two public days. She will be presenting a new standard to mark the 90th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, which will stage a large flyby.
RIAT has had a number of airshow firsts before, including the first display and landing of a B-2A Spirit outside of the United States.
Although the show has been a showcase for the world's military, the show has become an important precursor to the bi-annual Farnborough Air Show held in the following week. It allows the aerospace industry to display and present itself outside of the commercial pressures of the Farnborough show.
The two-day event in the Cotswold countryside, 70 miles west of London, attracts 170,000 people over a two-day period. Besides an eight-hour airshow there are also more than 300 aircraft–mostly military–on display.
RIAT is organized by a small full-time staff, augmented by more than 3,000 volunteers. Profits go to the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.