THE Royal International Air Tattoo got off to a flying start yesterday as some of the world’s top aerobatic teams took to the skies.
Among them were the world famous Red Arrows who were joined by a royal visitor for the afternoon.
Special guest Prince Charles spent much of the afternoon speaking with the pilots and meeting air cadets who are helping out with the spectacular airshow this weekend.
As part of his visit, The Prince of Wales sat in the cockpit of a Red Arrows Hawk T1, and was also presented with a book of paintings by Swindon-based artist David Bent.
For much of the trip the Prince of Wales had a smile on his face and was more than happy to chat with members of the crowd.
Among those he spoke with was cadet Ronnie Taffurlli, 16, who said: “It was really good to speak to the Prince who was really interested about what we did as cadets.
“He also asked us about what we are here to do, which is to help the public.”
The royal visitor also spoke with local school children who were visiting the air show for the first time.
Shawn Harper, 14, said he had come to RIAT because he wants to be a pilot when he was older.
He said: “Prince Charles asked us if we were in the cadets but we’re not because we don’t really have it at our school.
“It’s really made me want to join the RAF when I’m older.
“I tried asking him for a selfie as well but he said no.”
The royal visit marked the highlight of a busy first day of the air show, with more than 20,000 visitors making the trip to the Gloucester-shire airfield.
Although there were clouds in the sky for much of the day, they were high enough so all the scheduled flights could go ahead as planned.
With the F-35B Lightning II not in attendance, the Red Arrows were the main attraction, and as always did not disappoint.
People of all ages watched in amazement as the nine aircraft flew in all directions, lighting up the sky with their trademark red, blue and white smoke.
A host of other jets, helicopters and display teams from around the world rounded off a thrilling first day.