This week, the celebrations for the Royal Air Force’s 100th birthday reached a pinnacle when up to 100 aircraft took part in a fly past in London.
This amazing spectacle in the skies included a day of commemorations with a parade of 1000 servicemen and women down The Mall and a service at Westminster Abbey.
Thousands of people, including Her Majesty The Queen and members of the Royal Family, watched the aircraft, which represented different eras over the last century, take part in the historic flypast over Buckingham Palace.
My father served in the RAF during his younger days and I have always been interested in our national air force and I so am pleased to see so many celebrations to mark this momentous year.
When the ‘new’ RAF was formed on April 1, 1918, it was the most powerful in the world. Since then it has played a huge part in conflicts around the world.
Between the two wars, the service developed and grew, rank and titles were introduced, the first RAF pageant was held in 1920 and metal fighter planes were introduced in 1924.
It was during World War Two, when the RAF began to reign the skies, taking part in every battle of the conflict. Its most important role of the war was during the Battle of Britain, which raged in the skies over Britain from July to September 1940. The RAF defended the country from the Germans and this battle was seen as critical in preventing a land invasion.
Since then the RAF has played a key role in our armed forces and we are honoured to have such a distinguished air force protecting our shores.
One of the highlights of this year’s celebrations has been the transformation of the RAF museum in Hendon, which reopened on June 30th. As well as having a major extension, new galleries and landscaping, it now has 500 previously unseen artefacts on show and the chance to explore lots of planes.
Watching the planes from different eras fly over central London was a really moving tribute to our RAF. Seeing a Lancaster Bomber and spitfire flying in an aerial parade with the Red Arrows and Tornados is a very rare and remarkable sight.
I pay tribute to all those people who have given their lives to the service and to those who continue to serve in the RAF today and I look forward to seeing the RAF protect us for many years to come.