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RIAT 2018 - Top Displays Honoured at Air Tattoo

The Royal International Air Tattoo's three-day celebration of RAF100, the centenary of the Royal Air Force, came to its traditional conclusion on the Sunday night with the award of trophies at the hangar party.

Introducing the presentations was Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson, chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust. His Royal Highness Prince Feisal of Jordan presented the first of the awards, the King Hussein Memorial Sword for the best overall flying demonstration, in memory of the late His Majesty King Hussein, patron of the International Air Tattoo and Royal International Air Tattoo from 1983-99. Its recipient was the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which on Saturday performed a unique 'Trenchard Plus' formation comprising the Douglas Dakota, Avro Lancaster, two Hawker Hurricanes and three Supermarine Spitfires. Sunday's display saw the BBMF flying its 'Trenchard' formation of Dakota, Lancaster and two Spitfires, named for the first Chief of the Air Staff, Lord Trenchard, upon the RAF's formation in 1918.

BBMF pilot Flt Lt Paul 'Ernie' Wise was among those who collected the award on behalf of the flight. He said, "It's absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately the guys who were in the formation couldn't be here this evening - they've gone straight off task to go and do some more events and land back at Coningsby. I've just had the absolute privilege of phoning them to tell them that we did win the award, and you can imagine how many phone calls I've now had! It is a massive team effort, and we're extremely proud. As one of our supporters said, we opened the toybox for this one, especially with the 'Trenchard Plus'. The support was immense for it, and long may we keep doing this. In this RAF centenary year the theme is, 'Commemorate, Celebrate, Inspire'. We do commemorate the fallen, we certainly celebrate our achievements. We're now looking to inspire the next generation."

Another of the RAF's display teams took the Steedman Display Sword for best flying demonstration by a UK participant. This was the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows. Red 1, Sqn Ldr Martin Pert, commented, "It's an incredible achievement for both myself and the whole team to win the award this year. We've had a pretty dramatic and quite tough year in places, and at one stage it looked like we weren't going to be displaying at all. To win the sword at RIAT is quite emotional."

In a crowded field, the Paul Bowen Trophy - which recalls the late Paul Bowen, co-founder of the Air Tattoo - for the best solo jet demonstration was presented to the Turkish Air Force's F-16C Fighting Falcon display, Soloturk. The demo was performed by two different pilots on Friday and Sunday; Capt Serdar Dogan, who flew on the latter occasion and was making his RIAT debut, said, "This is a very special award for us. This is the second biggest award we've won: the first is the King Hussein Memorial Sword that we took home from RIAT in 2011. We're really happy to be here - this is the best-organised and most exciting airshow that we've ever attended in Soloturk's life. We're looking forward in the next few years to being at RIAT again and flying for the whole of the United Kingdom". His colleague Capt Erhan Gunar added, "On behalf of my team, a big thank you to RIAT for everything. This award is for all of us."

Capt Lauri Makinen from Fighter Squadron 31 of the Finnish Air Force won the Sir Douglas Bader Trophy for the best individual flying demonstration. His mount was another fast jet, the F/A-18C Hornet. "Of course, it means a lot", Makinen said. "I'm very honoured to get this trophy because I've seen a lot of great performances during this week. I just want to say thank you to the RIAT 2018 organisation, because it's such a great event. Thanks for the hospitality - we've had a great time."

Great friends of the Air Tattoo, the Royal Jordanian Falcons, won the RAFCTE Trophy, awarded to the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant. This was the team's first RIAT display in its new Extra EA330LX aircraft. Its director of operations, Col Ghazi Sadoun, reflected, "We are always honoured to participate, let alone to be received by such great crowds. To be given an award is an even greater honour."

The As The Crow Flies Trophy is awarded in memory of the late Air Marshal Sir Denis Crowley-Milling, former controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund and founder chairman of the Air Tattoo, to the best display as judged by the members of the Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo. It went to Couteau Delta, the French Air Force tactical demonstration team of two Dassault Mirage 2000D strike aircraft. One of its weapons systems operators, Capitaine 'Pastif', said, "It's a huge experience for us. We are here for the second year, and it's a great pleasure to have this prize. It's only our second year of existence, and we always try to do better; to do more on the social networks and with the Friends of RIAT. For us it's fantastic to win the World Cup and for us to get this award on the same night."

The Royal Canadian Air Force scooped two awards: that for best livery, presented to its CF-18 Hornet Demo Team, and the Chief Executive Trophy, awarded by RIAT chief executive Andy Armstrong for an outstanding contribution to the show. Capt Jenn Howell, public affairs officer for the CF-18 Demo Team, commented, "There are so many other amazing displays, and it's incredible to be here. Certainly it's an extreme honour to take home some hardware."