An evocative joint flypast by the RAF Red Arrows and a specially decorated jumbo jet will mark the centenary of one of the UK’s biggest and best loved brands at this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo.
A British Airways Boeing 747, painted in its iconic British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) livery, will perform a dramatic flypast with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team during the seven-and-a-half hour flying programme on Saturday, July 20.
The retro-style aircraft, which flew between 1952 and 1974, is one of three British Airways Boeing 747s specially painted in vintage designs to mark the airline’s 100-year history, the other two featuring the Negus (1974-1980) and Landor (1984-1997) liveries. Completing the line-up is an Airbus 319, painted to reflect its British European Airways heritage.
The Air Tattoo first featured a British Airways aircraft in its flying programme in 1985 when Concorde flew a memorable joint flypast with the Red Arrows. Concorde displayed again two years later before appearing regularly at the airshow on charter flights in support of the Air Tattoo’s Flying Scholarships for the Disabled charity as well as British Airways’ own High Flight charity.
The early 2000s saw several British Airways 747 and 777 charter flights and, in 2013, a giant A380 performed a showstopping flypast with the Red Arrows to the delight of the large Air Tattoo crowd. Two years later, British Airways sent an A318 for static display.
However, the airline’s support for the Air Tattoo stretches back further, to the early days of the airshow. In the 1970s, the airline displayed its hot air balloons and provided staff to help run the airshow operation on the ground as well as providing flight simulators for the showground.
Air Tattoo Chief Executive Andy Armstrong said: “The participation of British Airways aircraft in our flying displays over the years have often provided some of the most memorable aviation moments of the year and I am confident this summer will be no different. I can think of nothing better than to have one great British institution helping celebrate another!”
The BOAC 747’s appearance at the airshow is one of a number of centenary initiatives organised by BA that are designed to look ahead at the next 100 years of aviation as well as celebrating its illustrious past. This includes hosting ‘BA 2119’ – a programme, which will lead the debate on the future of flying and explore the future of sustainable aviation fuels, the aviation careers of the future and the customer experience of the future.
Captain Allister Bridger, British Airways’ Director of flight Operations, said: “The excitement and pride that we’ve witnessed from our customers and colleagues towards our heritage liveries in our centenary year has been incomparable. We’re hugely excited to bring one of our special aircraft to RAF Fairford as not only will the sight of our BOAC liveried 747 in the sky above RAF Fairford with the Red Arrows provide a wonderfully nostalgic moment for the Air Tattoo audience, but it also strengthens the long and valuable association we enjoy with the event.”
Wing Commander Andrew Keith, Officer Commanding Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows said: “Flying alongside this British Airways Boeing 747 will be an exciting and memorable moment for both the pilots in the air and those watching on the ground. The Red Arrows team has been working hard with British Airways and the Air Tattoo for many months to create this opportunity. The RAF’s own Centenary celebrations – marked a year ago – demonstrated the importance of using these high-profile occasions to inspire the next generation and we hope this flypast will be another chance to do that. The sortie will unite two highly recognisable brands of the United Kingdom and celebrate the very best of British.”
The Air Tattoo takes place at RAF Fairford in the Cotswolds on July 19-21. For more information and ticket details, visit www.airtattoo.com