London celebrates the RAF at 100
The Royal Air Force (RAF) came into being towards the end of the First World War, making 2018 its centenary year. Over the decades it has played a key role in history, with the air battles of the Second World War the most notable chapters.
It’s only fitting that the oldest independent air force in the world and pride of Britain be given appropriate birthday celebrations. Over the coming months, visitors to London can join in the festivities as the capital reflects on the RAF at 100.
RAF100 Parade and Flypast on The Mall
The highlight of the celebrations is to be a parade and flypast on 10 July. The Mall is the place to be, as 1,000 RAF personnel march and 100 aircraft take to the skies. The parade is due to start at 11:25, but be sure to get there early to secure a good spot.
By 13:00 it will be time to look to the skies, as Dakotas, Lancasters, Spitfires and other classic aircraft fly over Buckingham Palace. More modern planes will include Sentinels, Voyagers and Hawk T1 and T2s. It is set to be a veritable history lesson on the past 100 years of flight.
The RAF’s very own aerobatics team, the Red Arrows, will also be putting on a show, demonstrating incredible skill and agility in the air. The nine pilots will no doubt be particularly proud to represent the RAF at its birthday celebrations.
The royal connection
To mark the centenary of the RAF, the Queen and the Prince of Wales will present the organisation with a new Queen’s Colour. This will be undertaken at a ceremony on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. Members of the royal family will be seen at the flypast, as well, with the Queen, Charles and Camilla all confirmed to be in attendance.
RAF100 Aircraft Tour
Those keen to get up close to the aircraft ahead of the flypast can do so from 6 to 9 July when a free installation will be set up on Horse Guards Parade. See the likes of the new F35-B Lightning II at the RAF100 Aircraft Tour, as well as the chance to experience what it is like to fly a plane yourself in a VR simulator.
Royal Air Force Museum exhibitions
Now open to the public are two new galleries at the Royal Air Force Museum that look at the people behind the blue uniforms. These exhibitions show how it is the heroic actions of individuals that make the RAF what it is. A third new display explores the crucial role that the Air Force had during the war in the Falklands.
Family Spitfire Run and Spitfire 10k Run
It will be all victory rolls and flying jackets on 1 September when the RAF Museum hosts two jogs around its newly landscaped grounds. The first will be a fancy dress affair for the whole family to get involved in, while the second is likely to bring out a more competitive spirit.
Photo credit:  via iStock