Imperial War Museum (IWM) Duxford hosted the event under grey Cambridgeshire skies, using coloured zones to keep ticket holders as safe as possible.
Those in attendance were able to see RAF Typhoons, Spitfires and other military aircraft before day one of the weekend event was concluded by the RAF's aerobatic display team.
Wing Commander David Montenegro, Commanding Officer for the Red Arrows, told Forces News that the public were the "heart and soul" of the team.
While the team has mostly performed flypasts throughout the pandemic, he said it was "brilliant that we can actually come and see the public on the ground" at Duxford.
He added that the team is gathering "a lot of pace" as social restrictions have been lifted.
One of the organisers, Adam Kendall, was excited to hold the venue's first air show since September 2019.
"We've had multiple different plans of how we can stage this," he told Forces News.
Having worked with the local council to ensure ticket holders could enjoy the show safely, the show asked for those attending to have both vaccinations or return a negative lateral flow test before arrival.
A host of other precautions, including a capped attendance of 8,000 – one-third of full capacity – have also been taken.
A special NHS Spitfire also flew, a nod to the hard work of health workers during the pandemic.
The event featured interactive exhibitions on the ground, helping the IWM charity to prepare for a Battle of Britain Air Show in September, after being hit hard financially for more than a year by COVID lockdowns.