Celebrating 100 Years of the RAF (by Sam)

Every year, my Dad and I have a tradition; come rain or shine, we will go to an Airshow. This tradition started as a Father’s Day present about 4 or 5 years ago, when I brought us tickets to go to a show called Biggin Hill. I went along as the idea was to get to spend time with my dad, even though I wasn’t very interested in the planes. It ended up that we both had such a good time that we have done it every year ever since! We have since moved on from Biggin Hill though, and in the last 2 or 3 years have set our sights firmly on the skies in and around RAF Fairford, or as it airshow title is called, The Royal International Air Tattoo.

This year was definitely going to be no exception, as they were celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the RAF. We booked tickets for the Thursday (which is arrivals and rehearsals of aerobatic displays) and Friday (which was the first day of the airshow). We were both thrilled about the Thursday as the weather was absolutely stunning! This has to be the first year we have gone that we have actually seen sunshine! We both love coming to the shows for the photography, and the sunlight makes the colours of the planes just pop. The Friday on the other hand was a typical British summer day – so hot your in shorts and a t-shirt, then buckets and buckets of rain. Boo who.

Still, we didn’t let the weather dampen our spirits, as we both came away with some cracking shots from the weekend πŸ™‚

I thought I would share with you all some of my favourites! I am by no means a plane spotter – I have no idea which planes are which (F18’s or F35’s yarder yarder yarder…)! I only know my favourites, and these are usually ones with brightly coloured liveries. For those that don’t know, liveries are the colours, patterns, or flags painted onto the body of the plane. Some planes keep their livery the same, others change from year to year depending on the airshow or performance. This year, obviously, there were a load of planes painted with the 100 year RAF tail fin.

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My favourite planes are, and probably always will be, the Red Arrows. I absolutely love watching their displays. The word harmony comes to mind if I had to describe it. I love how they all move in such unison. And I can admire and appreciate the amount of effort and dedication it takes to be able to perform the stunts that they do.

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I took my pictures using a Canon 450D with a 300mm lens. I had the camera set up with an auto focus, but manually set the shutter speed and f stop depending on the speed of the aircraft and the light at the time (the clouds made a big difference to the brightness of the image!). For the majority of the time I had it set to a shutter speed of 1/1600 with an f stop of 5.6 – but as the sun really started to come out, I dropped it down to 1/1250 with an f stop of 6.3.

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As much as I love the Red Arrows, I also enjoy other countries equivalents (but the patriot that I am will always prefer the Reds haha!). I was over the moon with some of the shots I managed to get of the Italian Arrows, or the Frecce Tricolori (the blue, red and green planes above). I love the way they all line up (almost in perfect symmetry – Anna’s OCD will, on the most, be satisfied I hope!), and how you can see all of the plane numbers on the tail fins.

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Now this aircraft is one of the few that I do actually know the name of! The Ukraine Sukhoi. For the last 2 years this plane has alluded me, as it always arrives or does its rehearsal right at the very end of the day when the light is so poor you can’t see a thing! It has a beautiful blue camouflage livery that I have always wanted to capture in the sunlight! These didn’t come out quite as well as I was hoping, I think I could do with another 1 or 200mm extra on the lens to get a bit closer! But at least I have something πŸ™‚

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On the Friday, that actually opened up some of the aircrafts to the public to walk around in. I thought this was brill! I had a good nosey around this RAF Atlas before heading back to the runway to watch more planes coming in πŸ™‚

I hope you all enjoyed the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them! Let me know in the comments below if you have ever been to an airshow before, it would be great to get some more ideas of where to try for next year!

Until next time,

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