Gazing up to the stars of the skies above RIAT

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TV PRESENTER Carol Vorderman added a celebrity element to the air tattoo as the first pilot to touch down at the airfield in Gloucestershire ahead of the airshow this week.

The former Countdown host, who landed in a light aircraft, is preparing to recreate aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart’s solo flight around the world.

Intrepid Tracey Curtis-Taylor was also at the airshow ahead of a bid to recreate an epic flight by a female aviation pioneer.

The adventurer plans to follow the route taken by redoubtable Irishwoman Lady Mary Heath between Cape Town and Goodwood in West Sussex.

Tracey, of Stamford, Lincolnshire, will attempt the 7,500 miles in an open-cockpit Boeing Stearman biplane, albeit a more robust design than the fragile aircraft used by Lady Heath in 1928.

She said: “I’m so excited by it. It’s taken three years to pull this project together.

“It’s a complicated, challenging project. It’s physically hard, it’s hostile, it’s tough and there are political considerations crossing so many borders, but I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.”

The 42nd year of the world’s largest military airshow also welcomed the Breitling Wingwalkers, who flew upside down along the viewing line on four orange biplanes.

The warm but overcast weather failed to deter enthusiasts including Stephen Bartlett, 60, a railway worker of Middleton Cheney, Warwickshire, who has been attending the event since 1987.

Stephen, a member of Fairford Aviation Society, said: “I like the noise of the fast jets, it's a bit of a row in the sky. I even like the smell of the fuel, it's like getting a fix.

“There’s also the fact that it’s the biggest event in Europe and it’s a challenge to keep inviting the world’s airforces when they are constantly changing and in many cases shrinking. I feel duty-bound to come.”

Derek Livingstone, 40, and partner Claire Rushton, 27, of Milton Keynes, were enthralled by the sight of the Red Arrows alongside the BA Airbus.

Derek, an accountant who flies light aircraft as a hobby, said: "It was a lot like the Concorde flights alongside the Red Arrows.

“The difference is you will probably never see the Red Arrows fly alongside the A380 again as it will become a plane of choice when it starts carrying passengers.

“Today was a chance to see things which won’t happen anywhere else."”

Aime Kadibu watched with son Aaron, nine, and daughter Blessing, five, who wore replica Red Arrows jump suits and baseball caps.

Aime, 33, a Congolese national living in Lewisham, south London, said: “We came to see the Red Arrows, what they do is so inspiring for the little ones.

“You never know, maybe my younger ones would like to become pilots."”

Aaron said: “My favourite thing about the Red Arrows is the aerobatics. They are scary, but good.”

Linda Lake, 59, a care worker of Gosport in Hampshire, said: “The quietness of the huge Airbus compared to the noise of the little jets was wonderful.

“The Italian team was good but there was no comparison with the Reds, they were very precise and very professional, with lots of colour and excitement.

“They put on an excellent display.”

More than 100,000 visitors poured into the airbase over the course of the weekend.

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