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Sure you know what RIAT is all about, for the Aviation PhotoCrew it is the biggest project of the season. We are very privileged to fly a lot of photomissions all across Europe, and most of them are great and superb, but in terms of ‘BIG’ the photoflights in the week of the Royal International Air Tattoo are on top!

That goes as well for the amount of work and corporation needed to fly all these photo join-ups. In the first place our long-time friendship and support from the RIAT Ops team is key. Already at the beginning of 2018 we had our meeting in the offices of the Air Tattoo where we plan our photomissions along with each of the departments that play a vital role in the end result. CAA, ATC teams and Operations all must agree to give us the support and guidance we need to make this magical week happen. The briefings are made build a dedicated airspace, flight level and frequency.

Each of the aircrews will receive this 18 page briefing as a first step towards the photo join-up. The days prior to the photoflights there is at least once telephone contact with each of the pilots, a task that literally takes days! We decided for this edition to operate out of Oxford airport, as it was on the edge of the photozone. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a very expensive decision and at times very ineffective as well…

Ooh well, but the weather was with us on all days for 100%, a fantastic variation in blue skies and white fluffy clouds, a photographers dream and ideal start for some long awaited air to air photography.

Just like in 2017, we did not get the aircraft that were on top of the list as the Romanian Mig-21 was cancelled only a few weeks before the airshow. But what a long list it was again!! Flights started in the early morning, just when the fog was lifting, and lasted until almost sunset. Hardly time to go to the bathroom, change your memory card or have a sandwich, but this is what RIAT is all about for us….flying, flying, flying.
Too many highlights to mention, as literally all of the Air Forces accepted our invitation for a photo join up, but here is the TOP 5 of most memorable moments in the 2018 edition:
- The first and maybe last chance to see the French Marine ATL2
- The first time to join up with the prototype of the Embraer KC-390
- The arrival of two Italian Typhoons in warm early evening light
- The black Gloster Meteor used as an ejectionseat testbed by Martin Baker
- Our first join up with a C-17 Globemaster, that waited for us like 20 minutes because we could not take off on time
All of these join ups take the 12 points, and everybody else gets the 10 points!
The work of the Aviation PhotoCrew doesn’t end after the flying, during the actual airshow weekend it’s always a pleasure to see all the aircrews who already eagerly await to get a first glimpse of the photoresults. Towards the end of the year, a kingsize calendar is produced for the RIAT team with 12 of the best photos on there, as the RAF is celebrating its 100th anniversary the cover will be graced by the Red Arrows.

Preparations for the 2019 photoflights have already started at the airshow weekend, and it is fantastic for us to see that the number of aircrews and Air Forces letting us know well in advance they will attend RIAT, is increasing each year. Pollish your machines, we will be ready! If you like to fly with us in the RIAT photomissions, don’t forget to get in touch with us like…now!

A special thank you goes again to Rich Cooper and his COAP team for superb corporation, and for this edition we also had the very appreciated help from Richard Paver.


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