Royal International Air Tattoo 2017, also known as RAIT 2017, is the worlds largest airshow, held annually over the third weekend in July, usually at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.
The first Air Tattoo was staged at North Weald Airfield in Essex in 1971, with just over 100 aircraft taking part. The event was founded by Paul Bowen and Timothy Prince, who were CAA Air Traffic Controllers, and Air Marshal Sir Denis Crowley-Milling. From 1973 to 1983 it was held intermittently at RAF Greenham Common, initially under the title of the Royal Air Forces Association, South Eastern Area, Air Tattoo before moving to RAF Fairford in 1985. The show became the International Air Tattoo in 1976, and recognition of its unique status was granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1996, when the current Royal International Air Tattoo title was adopted.
The event has had a number of air show firsts, including the first display and landing of the B-2A Spirit stealth bomber outside the United States of America during the 1997 '50 Years of the USAF' event and in 2008 the first landing of the Lockheed F-22 Raptor in Europe.
RIAT 2017 was staged over 14th-17 July 2017. It was a tribute to the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force (USAF) and saw the return of USAF Thunderbirds for the first time in 10 years.
The RAF was joined in the skies over Fairford by aircraft from across NATO, highlighting the collaboration between the RAF and allied air forces such as the Belgian, French and Italian Air Forces. . Combat aircraft such as the Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon were designed and developed in partnership with countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain, and a similar partnership led to the production of the A400M Atlas Transport aircraft.
The USAF was celebrating their 70th year as an independent branch of the US Military. Historic American aircraft were present for the show in the form of two P-51 Mustangs and a B-17 Bomber from Second World War, as well as more modern US Military aircraft such as the F22 Raptor, B1-B Lancer and B2 Spirit being in attendance.