Air Shows That Have Gone Virtual

Since Covid-19 has plagued the world, many businesses have closed, and events have been cancelled. Many of us have had to work from home and find alternatives to everyday activities such as sport, exercise and social interactions. But some events can go virtual, like Britain’s Got Talent where the live audience viewed the show through Zoom, and the Royal International Air Tattoo where they used the game DCS (Digital Combat Simulator). 

Photo: Maverick

Although we could not be at the Royal Air Tattoo, the virtual version still makes you feel like you are there. The Royal International Air Tattoo has been running since 1976 at RAF Fairford and at some other airfields. Despite all the action and excitement that the show has, there has been a few accidents. Such as in 1993, where two MIG-29’s from the Russian air force collided in mid-air and sliced the cockpit from the body. Luckly no one was injured, and the pilots ejected and landed safely. After this there was one more in 2002, where an Italian G-222 (Spartan) had to make a hard landing after demonstrating a steep approach. Even though these crashes have happened, it has not stopped thousands of people coming every year to watch the show. 

 Since the pilots cannot use real aircraft, they have had to use replica cockpits. The pilots have had to use top of the notch computers and VR headsets with flight controllers. “That was an incredible experience. I have never used VR before. The sensation of being able to look around a see what is going on. The references of the aircraft around me look very much like when I’m flying in the back seat with the team in the middle of the formation, “It’s very realistic.” – Squadron Leader Adam Collins Red 10 said. The pilots would fly their planes on the computers in a hangar at their local military airbase. For example a few of the Roulettes were at Point Cook in Victoria, Australia.   

Before the air show, RAF Fairford was a military airbase. Constructed in 1944 for the D-Day landings and for operation market garden. It was then later used during the cold war as an airbase for the Americans for strategic bomber operations over the Soviet Union. But today it is still an active airfield and is where the RIAT happens. 

So, because of Covid, the show has had to go virtual. This has shown us that there is always another way to do something in a time of crisis. And so, we have now learnt that video games can still make things happen. 

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