DAZZLING displays of amazing aerial acrobatics filled the skies over the weekend as the world's biggest air show returned to wow hundreds of thousands of visitors who got to see cutting-edge and classic military aircraft up-close and overhead.

The enormous airfield at the RAF base in Fairford was packed full of planes and pilots from across the globe who had travelled thousands of miles to come to the Royal International Air Tattoo.

Kids stared spellbound at the impressive flights of the Finnish Midnight Hawks, Royal Jordanian Falcons and British Red Arrows while military enthusiasts wandered around eagerly like kids in a candy store.

John Batty watched the displays while his nine-year-old son Sam talked excitedly about the names of each aircraft.

The 45-year-old from Cheshire has been taking Sam to the show for four years.

Sam said: "It's the best one we've been to."

John said: "He's always had an interest in military aircraft, I brought Sam here once and now he wants to come every year.

"The Typhoons were excellent and we're looking forward to seeing the F-22 Raptors and the Thunderbirds.

"There's a lot more American aircraft here than there usually is because of the anniversary."

The US Air Force celebrated its 70th anniversary by bringing along some of its biggest and best aircraft and showing off with a series of daily displays that were the centrepiece of this year's RIAT.

One of its members happily chatted to families and cadets who were intrigued by the U-2S reconnaissance aircraft parked next to him, but couldn't reveal his surname or rank as both were apparently classified.

Mike said: "It's good to come here because I'm used to seeing only American aircraft at air shows, y'all have so much to offer us."

Our conversation was briefly interrupted by a Spitfire taking off and zipping through the air.

Mike smiled and added: "We wouldn't get stuff like this in the US."

The sheer scope of the air show is stunning, it's impossible to see everything in one day and it's surreal to see hundreds of expensive and antique planes of all shapes and sizes gathered together on the same tarmac.

The Royal Australian Air Force flew in to Fairford for their first time at RIAT.

Warrant Officer Ben Stibbs was thrilled to be at the air show, dwarfed by a massive Boeing E-7A Wedgetail.

He said: "It's a long trip but it's worth it, it's awesome here.

"I've never been to an air show like this, it's humongous.

"This aircraft was just in the Middle East on Operation OKRA, we picked it up on the way here and it's been used extensively in the fight against ISIS."

Though the flying displays were the main attraction, there was plenty to entertain the crowds on the ground, too, like the retro wartime music and dancing in the Vintage Village, or the interactive fun and games of the Activity Zone, the daredevil driving in the Autodrome, and the high-tech exhibits of the TechnoZone.

The three-day Air Tattoo is staged in support of the RAF Charitable Trust, which assists the force and encourages young people to get involved in the UK's aviation industry.

Something extra-special must surely be in the pipeline for next year's event, which will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the RAF.