As a first time RIATer I knew I would love it and I did. I thought almost every display was excellent (within reason! I did go for a bit of a wander during certain displays) and the static park was also excellent. I thought Soloturk and Polish Tiger were the best two F-16s with Zeus being the clear 4th in that group, but considering the Frecce were doing a 'flat' display, I guess this was due to weather conditions? I live very close to Coningsby so have seen Mark's Typhoon display a lot and yet despite this and also it being the 4th Typhoon display, that was the best (again probably weather related as I did enjoy the 'smoke' from the Italian). My top four displays were the Rafale, MiG-29 (I messed up and was completely in the wrong place for the take off though!), A400 and F-22. As a first timer to a military airshow I was blown away by the organisation of it all. The free drinking taps, the endless bins, the speed of the queues, the traffic control and the crowd control was second to none. Music festivals could learn an awful lot!
There were only a couple of negatives I could think of really. I think as a first timer doing a single day, there was almost too much to see and not enough time to see it. I could've done with maybe an hour's break in the middle to do the static park a bit more justice as I only just about got around everything and didn't have any time to visit a single stall. Next year I will certainly try and do two days. I also felt that the Heritage flight was a bit odd. The F-22s individual display was fantastic and what an amazing plane, but the F-35A did pretty much nothing and when the flypasts were taking place there was a lot of time when you couldn't see either plane as they were outside of the airfield. The yanky commentator was a bit yanky for my taste too and kept going on about how it was the best plane in the world and how incredible it was. Sometimes you have to let the plane speak for itself! Great to see them together though and I wasn't complaining during the show itself!
It was certainly a wonderful show though and one I will remember fondly for a long time to come and not just because this time next year I'll probably still be processing photos from it, but i've learnt a few things for next year, that's for sure! More refreshments, chairs and a hat next year! I was exhausted after the Patrouille finished!
All the best