Organisers of the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford have unveiled two new initiatives they believe will minimise the risk of a repeat of last summer’s cancellation.
Earlier this year, thousands of visitors were left disappointed when the event had to be called off after prolonged bouts of heavy rain flooded fields bordering the Base that were set aside for car parking.
In a show of support for the Air Tattoo, the US Air Force has granted permission for limited car parking on concrete on the Base next summer. Prior to 9/11, airshow visitors had been allowed to park on the Base but since then, heightened security measures meant that was not possible.
Commander 420th Air Base Group, USAF, Col Joe Dill said: “Security is my number one concern here. We looked at the situation and what we were up against with respect to weather and parking. Everyone got their pencils out, we put our heads together and I believe we have come up with a plan where we can make it happen as required.”
In order to meet the necessary security requirements, Air Tattoo organisers have agreed that visitors parking on Base will be chosen randomly on the day from the many thousands of people attending.
In addition to introducing limited on-Base parking, organisers have also announced plans to make the fields more robust, including laying extra trackway.
Director Tim Prince said he was confident that these measures, along with other proposed initiatives, will make the difference.
“This is not the first time the US Air Force has come to our rescue when we have needed help to solve a problem and we remain totally indebted to them. This new parking option plus the extra trackway and spine roads we plan to lay in the car parks will significantly reduce the risk of us having to cancel the event, as a result of inclement weather, in the future.”
Earlier this month, the organisers announced that in order to control the numbers attending the event, only advance tickets would be sold. None would be available at the gates on the day as in previous years.
Mr Prince said: “By not selling tickets on the gate we run the risk of losing some of our revenue. But first and foremost we have a duty of care to all those who purchase tickets to the Air Tattoo. Knowing in advance how many visitors are attending will help enormously with our pre-show planning and will enable us to react more effectively to unforeseen events, such as the atrocious weather we suffered last summer.”