World renown RIAT makes return to Pathfinder base

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jeff Andrejcik
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

The world’s largest military airshow, the Royal International Air Tattoo, returned to RAF Fairford hosting a live audience after a two-year hiatus due to pandemic restrictions, July 15-17.

The three-day airshow celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the U.S. Air Force as well as 73 years of the NATO alliance. Throughout the event, more than 175,000 attendees and hundreds of aircraft from nations across the world took part exhibiting RAF Fairford’s ability to support an influx of personnel and aircraft.

“RIAT showcases the strategic importance of RAF Fairford and the capabilities that the 501st Combat Support Wing facilitates,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Stover, 420th Air Base Squadron commander. “We are able to receive and bed down hundreds of aircraft, from both NATO partner nations and allies across the globe, including hundreds of volunteers who reside on base during the buildup, execution, and tear down following the event. This reflects our wartime mission to support contingency operations at a moment’s notice.”

The U.S., along with other military allies and partners, not only used the unique event to highlight their air capabilities but also the vital relationships relied on to provide stability to regions around the world.

“If you look at the number of countries participating in RIAT, they truly span the globe, and those countries have all come here, as allies and partners, who recognize the value and strategic importance that air power brings,” said Stover. “It is not only vital to securing our freedoms and promoting peace, but also in the protection of our allies and partners, especially when they come under threat.”

The airshow was a culmination of months of preparation in which the 501st CSW worked hand-in-hand with the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprise to host the three-day event.

“RIAT, as an airshow, occurs over three days of flying events, but that is the end result of an eight-month build up in close partnership and teamwork between RAFCTE and the Airmen from the 501st CSW and 420th ABS,” said Stover. “The involvement of our Airmen has been extensive, and covers every flight and capability across the base."

The successful execution of RIAT relied heavily on the resources that the base was able to provide. From facilities and infrastructure, communications and utilities, logistical equipment and fuels; as well as training and certifying their personnel to safely operate the equipment.

While RIAT provided an entertaining spectacle for the thousands in attendance, it also served as a reminder of what U.S. Airmen are capable of and how important the partnerships are that ensure regional stability and peace.

“Supporting RIAT showcases how responsive, adaptable and dynamic the capabilities are that our Airmen possess and what can be achieved when given the opportunity,” said Stover. “[RIAT] highlights the dedication we have to supporting both our host nation, but also reinforces the commitment that being a member of NATO exemplifies…that we are there for our partners when they need us.”