The Royal International Air Tattoo 2019 celebrated the 70th anniversary of NATO, and came as ever from home of RIAT, Royal Air Force Fairford. For me, this year, I tried something a bit different in which I embarked upon trying an enclosure at the Air Tattoo. Having been going since I was 14, I've always been on the grounds running for the best seats while queuing up at 6 in the morning, but for once in my life I have decided to take it easy and try and capture some better images as well, as I found over the years, that the best shots are to be had near the FRIAT or the grandstand. So that is what I did, I deciding to book the Saturday and Sunday at the top of the viewing Village enclosure's grandstand.
I usually make for the red zone car park which from my knowledge of going to the Air Tattoos over the years gets me to either the red or the blue car park. As I travel from the Northwest, and now in recent years I also camp, then this means the entrance is through either the red or yellow car park. Now for those who have attended the Air Tattoo before know of the distance from the red zone to the top end of the blue zone is quite far where the viewing village is. So disabled people, or those who struggle to walk, I strongly recommend talking to the nearest volunteer or air cadets to explain your situation and to find your nearest bus stop. I found the bus is quite easy when going to and from the viewing Village to a certain static area or to find a certain stall.
But when walking into the viewing Village you are greeted by the volunteers of the Air Tattoo who are as ever jovial and happy to see you and welcome you in. It's important to remember if you are picking up your grandstand packages to make them aware straight away you arrive, that's also said if you arrive with your package already make sure to have the wristband on for that day if you're attending numerous days. Volunteers are more than helpful and will guide you to the exact spot of your seat and will point out the etiquette and the rules for the grandstand or the viewing area.
Now for me, I was at the back of the grandstand which has an unrestricted view, pretty much, and I asked the volunteer straight away, am I allowed to stand. They were more than willing to guide me in the fact of how to stand and where to stand which is amazing compared to my experience as previously said at IWM Duxford
where I found the staff to be the flip of what it was here. The volunteers can't help you enough here, with one lady who was volunteering spoke to me for a solid 20 minutes about the Air Tattoo and about the etiquette of the grandstand, as you may be aware there is an unwritten etiquette of the FRIAT grandstand and I wanted to make sure of doing the right things while being there. The only rule is when at the back is that you keep yourself safe and do not block people's views, other than that you can stand and do whatever you want. As well, the 'left luggage facility' at the viewing Village is amazing, the Cadets give you a token which represents your bag, then it's looked after by them totally and you're free to travel about and go wherever you want within the Air Tattoo surrounding.
So overall what do I feel about the viewing village and grandstand? Well I can't recommend it enough, yes it is expensive compared to a standard ticket and if you are traveling with family it is not recommended as such because of the price. If you're willing to pay the £35 extra on top of the ticket price, then go for it, I can't recommend it enough personally. I had my most enjoyable Air Tattoo in the terms of taking unrestrictive photographs but also the overall experience was excellent. So, well done to the Royal International Air Tattoo once again for a fantastic show and a brilliant experience on the grandstand. Next year I'm hoping to either repeat this by going to the same grandstand or going into the unknown and the world of the Friends of the Royal International Air Tattoo (FRIAT).
Photographs & Review by Cody Froggatt