RIAT has no position to become exception to the rule, the real "problem" is the red tape ruining such events with their funny regulations. And it is really ruining display for the Dutch F-16 for example. In my point of view the restrictions within UK are nothing than a lame excuse for the mistakes made by others! Sorry, but as I said above: If a Hind can hit a food stall during it's display, this is RIAT's problem and it's display areas! Airpower09 at Zeltweg AFB also had to fulfill NATO-Restrictions because of the participating NATO aircrafts. This resulted in the effect that spotters had to leave fenced (!) areas on Thursday because it was "too near to the taxiway". Flares were allowed in Zeltweg, also the C-27 was allowed to do a role. No problem at all with NATO-regulations... If Fairford has not enough areas big enough it is a excuse all will understand. But only saying: It hit a food stall and that is why it is evil it is not the truth!
Now ask yourself this, where do you see most military aircraft drop flares during operations and trials? Over the airfield or over the range?? And if it's over the range and not the airfield ask yourself why?
As Tom has said there are numerous restrictions governing this and handling aircraft on the ground which are armed takes the fun out of the job. I was one of the guys who had to tow aircraft around the airfield, at last year's RIAT, away from the other aircraft because they were found to be armed. After spending half an hour parking them nice and neatly in a line of other aircraft using a tape measure and a compass to be then told to move them and leave a ruddy great gap in the static line up was just smashing.
RIAT is one of the safest events you can attend which involve large chunks of metal full of fuel flying at silly speeds. This is due to stringent rules and regs so yes it can make its own rules if it wants. If RIAT is classed as restrictive then so be it. In aviation the most restrictive rules are normally the safest and thus the best so comparing us to other players in the business who are happy to have the public exposed to armed aircraft is like comparing apples with oranges, i.e. pointless.
(who will be setting off for RIAT in around 24 hrs so hope its a good one, inshallah. I will try and bring some sunshine with me)
None of the above photos were taken by me, they were on a disc I found in a dustbin............