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Swindon Lives - Tim Prince OBE
Ahead of this summer's Royal International Air Tattoo, event founder and Chief Executive of Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises, Tim Prince OBE, opened up to Daniel Flay about his spectacular career in aviation.
The RIAT keeps getting bigger and better, how have you managed it?
Well the nice thing is that the event is mainly organised by unpaid volunteers, who love what they do and love aviation - It's that energy and drive that keeps us going! Although we've gotten better we've not necessarily gotten bigger, having said that though, we got pretty big back in 2003, we even received a Guinness World Record. This year we're a lot more focussed on providing great customer service.
Why do you think that the RIAT is so successful, why do people keep coming back year after year?
There's no bigger air show in the UK...and probably even the world! We get aviators from all over the globe coming along to show off their skills and air crafts. It's such a special event, once you've been along its difficult not to want to come back.
You've been a part of the Air Tattoo for over 40 years, what's one of your fondest memories/highlights?
We've done some amazing things in the past, we've had a Stealth Fighter flown by an RAF pilot in formation with the Red Arrows, we also got the first Russian Bear Aircraft to land in the UK and parked it next to an American Air force B-52 Bomber which was quite special, we had both pilots drinking beer and telling stories together. Other spectacular things that we've done include having a Concorde fly in formation with the Red Arrows and Suzi Perry fly in on a Typhoon.
What can we expect from this year’s show? Is there anything that you’re particularly looking forward too?
As always I'll be looking forward to the Red Arrows. We've got some big plans for this year’s show but unfortunately I can't disclose them at the moment because we haven't received permission just yet! To me the best experience is seeing the crowd come in and look happy.
When did your passion for aviation begin?
It started when I was just a boy, aircraft used to fly over my house and I was mesmerised by them. From a young age I was a train spotter and then became an aircraft number spotter. My ambition was to do air electronics, which means I would probably spent my days in the back of a Vulcan, trying to make the radio work. I trained as a civilian air traffic controller and the rest is history.
How long does it take to plan the RIAT?
It takes a lot longer than you probably think, in total we spend around 13 months planning the event, contacting foreign air forces, getting sponsors excited and arranging fun and innovative attractions.
When you're not busy organising the RIAT how do you like to spend your spare time?
I think my wife can vouch for me when I say "I'm a bit of a workaholic". I never really have much time to myself, aviation is my passion and my life.