With the annual two-day Chief of the Air Staff Air Power Conference, the Royal international Air Tattoo held annually at RAF Fairford over the three subsequent days, and this year, that is quickly followed by the Farnborough International Air Show July 2018, the next three weeks promise as they always do to be very busy one’s for those in industry and in the military air power environment. However, before any of these events occur I thought it timely to remind that London and various other parts of South-East will, on Tuesday July 10th be able to witness and enjoy the RAF 100 Flypast, an event that will mark one of the most important in the extensive calendar of events arranged to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force.
The centrepiece of the RAF100 commemoration event taking place next Tuesday 10th July will start with a centenary service at Westminster Abbey followed by a parade in The Mall followed by what promises to be a once in a lifetime spectacular mass flypast by the RAF. The flypast will undoubtedly be an unparalleled spectacle in modern times and will have a potential to reach a global audience of millions of people. At 1125 Hours on that day approximately one thousand serving members of the Royal Air Force will take part in a parade on The Mall. A further 300 members of Royal Air Force line the route of the flypast that follows.
Having mustered over The Wash together with other locations in East Anglia and from a holding pattern formed around Swaffham, the aircraft will then fly via Ipswich at 1245 Hours following a route that will take them over Colchester, Chelmsford, the City of London heading towards central London at 1300 Hours, the flypast of close to 100 aircraft that are representative of the Royal Air Force past, present and future will fly across the centre of London from the east over Buckingham Palace and onward to places that include Runnymede where the wonderful memorial to British and Commonwealth airmen and women who gave their lives in the second world war is located.
The event promises to be a once in a lifetime spectacle that I am sure will be looked on with pride by all those who both take part and watch the event.
RAF 100 has been a wonderful and timely reminder of the vital importance and role of military air power. With the CAS Air Power Conference that is organised by the Air Power Association together with the Royal International Air Tattoo attracting a record number of over 70 air force chiefs from all over the world this year events taking place next week next in London and RAF Fairford mark the pinnacle of RAF 100 celebrations.
However, the important events mentioned are far from marking the end of RAF 100 celebrations. On Friday past I had the honour of being at events marking the re-opening of a much extended and improved RAF Museum at Hendon. Following the events mentioned above there follows a series of National Aircraft Tours that include Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Norther Ireland (4th/5th August) Birmingham Victoria Square (25th/27th August) Glasgow Science Centre (1st/2nd September) and Manchester Cathedral Gardens (15th/16th September. RAF 100 events end with the Battle of Britain Service in London on 16th September.
The charities associated with the Royal Air Force have a proud tradition of supporting the whole RAF Family. Together they provide help to those serving their country and their dependants, as well as veterans and the next generation.
RAF100 provides great opportunities to build on the successes of the past 100 years and raise additional funds for the RAF Family. To maximise the opportunities that our centenary year brings, the RAF100 Appeal is being run as a joint venture between the Royal Air Force, the RAF association, the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF charitable Trust and the RAF Museum.
Fundraising undertaken during RAF100 will be coordinated by the joint venture. The money raised will be shared between the four charities and other related charitable causes.
RAF 100 has been a superbly arranged series of events. From the opening Gala Concert organised by the RAF Charitable Trust on the 31st March and which I and my wife were honoured to attend, to watching commencement of the RAF 100 Baton relay the following day, the hugely successful start of the National Aircraft Tour in Cardiff on the 16th to 20th May and the absolutely brilliant RAF Cosford Airshow where we witnessed such a tremendous effort in relation to the need to encourage STEM, engineering and skills not to mention some of the best military aviation displays to have been seen anywhere this year, all that I can say is that RAF 100 has been brilliantly arranged and executed throughout.
May I personally thanks the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Hillier and the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Mike Wigston for their foresight and hard work and indeed, all those serving in the Royal Air Force for making RAF 100 such a formidable series of events that recognise the people and capability past and present and that have undoubtedly inspired the next generation Royal Air Force.
CHW (London – 29th June 2018)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785