THE Royal International Air Tattoo welcomed a royal visitor to RAF Fairford on Friday, July 11, as the airshow celebrated the 50th display season of the RAF Red Arrows.
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales called in to meet the pilots of the RAF’s aerobatic display team, but he first visited the airshow’s Techno Zone, an interactive area sponsored by Lockheed Martin, to meet young visitors to the event.
Prince Charles toured the area talking to exhibitors and young people enjoying the range of interactive displays.
In the outdoor arena, and to the perfect backdrop of the RAF Red Arrows’ display, he met members of the Air Cadets who fortunately managed to avoid soaking His Royal Highness while demonstrating water-powered rockets.
The royal visitor also talked to pupils from the Cotswold School, who were working with Morgan Advanced Materials, and watched students from Sir William Romney’s School in Tetbury ‘thinking outside the box’ with the Ingenious Buskers.
Steven Mackay, headteacher of Sir William Romney’s, said: “It was a great learning experience for the children involved, and we were delighted to see that Prince Charles could join us, given that we are his home town’s school.”
His Royal Highness was accompanied by: Dame Janet Trotter, Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire; Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson, Chairman of the RAF Charitable Trust and President of the Royal International Air Tattoo; Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, Chief of Air Staff; General Mark Welsh, Chief of Staff USAF; and Air Chief Marshal Sir Glen Torpy of BAE Systems.
The final stage of the Techno Zone visit was a tour of the Lockheed Martin exhibit, where Prince Charles was introduced to Marillyn Hewson, President and Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Corporation.
From there the royal party moved on to meet the pilots and aircrew of the RAF Red Arrows. The team, which is celebrating its 50th display season this year, had just performed their display and taken part in a special flypast, accompanied by aircraft flown by the team leaders from the Patrouille de France, Patrouille Suisse, Frecce Tricolori and Breitling Jet Team, to mark the special anniversary.
Prince Charles was applauded as he arrived and people in the crowd were delighted as, after shaking hands with the pilots and groundcrew of the Reds, he made a point of also shaking hands with all the Cadets on parade and many onlookers.
Sir Kevin Leeson said: “We were delighted that Prince Charles made time in his very busy diary to visit the Techno Zone. His Royal Highness obviously enjoyed interacting with local school pupils and Air Cadets in the Techno Zone, part of the Charitable Trust’s initiative to promote air education in young people.”
The Royal International Air Tattoo is staged annually in support of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust which, in turn, awards grants in support of the RAF family, including serving personnel and Air Cadets. Since it was established in January 2005, the Trustees have awarded over £2.1 million to a wide range of projects and initiatives.