This year, a record crowd of 185,000 people enjoyed a feast of flying as the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) staged international celebrations marking the Royal Air Force's Centenary at RAF Fairford. Royal Air Force Musicians from RAF Northolt were there to support every step of the way, from parades and displays with the Queen’s Colour Squadron, to ambient music, right through to the celebrations on the final evening.
On Thursday 12th July the Royal Air Force Salon Orchestra entertained guests for an informal drinks reception and dinner as the first official event of RIAT. This year guests had the chance to dine in the newly opened Concorde Hangar, Filton, at the Aerospace Bristol Museum. The reception and dinner gave VIP guests of RIAT the opportunity to meet in an informal setting with light music provided by the Salon Orchestra as they toured the last Concorde to fly and later dined directly underneath it. A fittingly impressive backdrop to set the tone for the coming weekend at RIAT, and particularly poignant in this, the RAF’s Centenary year.
On the morning of Friday 13th, in celebration of the Royal Air Force's centenary, the new Queen's Colour was proudly displayed by the Queen’s Colour Squadron. They were accompanied by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force in a ceremonial parade to an audience of Air Tattoo visitors and a Royal Party.
The Queen’s Colour is the RAF’s senior ceremonial flag, displayed in honour of those who serve, have served, and have lost their lives for the Queen. The new Colour was presented to the RAF by Her Majesty the Queen during the Royal Air Force Centenary Parade in London on the 10th of July.
The Colour – a 3ft 9in pale blue silk flag, trimmed with mixed blue and white tassels, and embellished with 3 roundels, the Union Flag, and the Royal Cipher - was escorted by Flying Officer Joseph Sentence.
Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent, and the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier were invited to inspect the troops and colour upon their arrival. They then watched on as the Parade, commanded by Squadron Leader Ben Alcock, marched past in formation.
Air Tattoo Marketing Director, Shane Bellamy said:
"It's a privilege to have the first public appearance of the new Queen's Colour here at the Royal International Air Tattoo. It's a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, helping everybody at the show and watching from afar to commemorate and look forward to an inspiring future for both the RAF and the Air Tattoo."
Later the same day, the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment supported Queen’s Colour Squadron as they performed a continuous drill display for the Princess Royal, Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Hillier, and other international VIPs and distinguished guests.
The band then entertained with some light music, including the infamous Post Horn Gallop, before Queens Colour Squadron returned to the parade square for the Sunset Ceremony.
Bringing the weekend to a rousing finale, the Top Cover Show Band from the Band of the RAF Regiment performed at a VIP BBQ hosted by the Chief of the Air Staff on Saturday evening. This was another opportunity for him to entertain guests in a less formal manner.
With Rendcomb Airfield as a backdrop, the guests, including foreign dignitaries and aerospace industry leaders, were treated to predinner entertainment from the AeroSuperBatics Wingwalkers and a recreation World War 1 dogfight from the Bremont Great War Display Team.
During dinner, background music was provided by the Jazz Ensemble of the Band of the RAF Regiment before they handed over to Top Cover to really get the party started!
With a packed dance floor in front of them ready to go, Top Cover kicked off with some disco classics, and before long had the crowd singing along with a medley of Queen numbers. (Who doesn’t love Queen?)
The evening rounded off a highly successful weekend for RAF Music Services at what is undoubtedly the UK’s greatest annual Air Show.
To look for tickets for next year’s show, visit RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises.
Please take a look at our Friends of the RAF Music scheme.