Cadets and volunteers from across the Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC) are converging on London to support the RAF100 celebrations over the next few days.
Many will attend the anniversary service in Westminster Abbey on Tuesday before watching the historic flypast of 100 of the RAF’s finest aircraft.
And cadets are even part of the flypast with 100 on board Voyager as 1,000 RAF personnel parade down The Mall below them.
Some cadets and staff will join with RAF “regulars” attending receptions at Buckingham Palace, St James’ Palace and Horse Guards Parade to mark the momentous occasion.
RAF Air Cadet Ambassador, Honorary Group Captain Carol Vorderman will be joined by cadets for RAF100 television interviews on Tuesday morning before attending the service in Westminster Abbey and cadets will visit the static aircraft display in Horse Guards Parade this weekend.
Always helping others, the cadets will also be out in force raising money on the day for the Royal Air Forces Association.
As the next generation, the air cadets represent the “Inspiration” element of the RAF100 celebrations which has the themes “commemorate, celebrate and inspire”.
With the RAF Air Cadets, comprising both the Air Training Corps (ATC) and the Combined Cadet Force RAF – CCF (RAF) - hundreds of cadets are marking the anniversary in the capital.
Commandant RAFAC, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, also attending the service and then the reception at Horse Guards Parade, said: “This is a once-in-a-generation event and I feel incredibly lucky and deeply honoured to be leading the RAF Air Cadets during the Centenary of the RAF.
Flashback to Plymouth …Hon Group Capt Carol Vorderman with air cadets. Image: Flt Lt Phil Boorman
“Having spent 23 years as a regular RAF officer, five leading the RAF Families Federation, and six as a reservist officer in command of the next generation, I am delighted to see the anniversary marked in this magnificent way.
“The 55,000 cadets, volunteers and staff who make up the RAF Air Cadets are with the RAF every step of the way and are supporting the centenary across the UK and abroad.
“Without the support of our parent Service – the RAF – these youngsters aged 12-19 - would not have the broad experience and opportunities they receive, so, from all members of the RAF Air Cadets ‘Happy Birthday and thank you’. “
Flight Lieutenant Mark Bird, Officer Commanding 56 (Woolwich) Squadron, ATC said: "It's fantastic for the RAF Air Cadets to be involved with another high profile RAF100 event, and to represent the Corps amongst all the other members of the RAF family.
“We have been involved in a number of RAF100 celebrations over the summer, which has been a great opportunity for the cadets to meet regular, reserve and veterans from all different branches of the RAF."
Cadet Warrant Officer (CWO) Darrell Kovac, Dacre Sword Winner 2018, of 31 (Tower Hamlets) Squadron, ATC, said: "It’s going to be an incredible day, all of the cadets are so excited.
“Seeing the flypast will be a particular highlight but also being part of such an important part of RAF history.”
Cadet Flight Sergeant Yasmin Sachdev, 241 (Wanstead and Woodford) Squadron, ATC, said: "I joined the RAF Air Cadets four years ago, because I wanted a fun hobby. I never imagined that there would be such incredible opportunities – this week we will be part of history, as we celebrate 100 years of the RAF. I'm really proud to be part of it."
CWO Daryl Cortez, 31 (Tower Hamlets) Squadron, ATC, said: "I love being part of the RAF100 celebrations. Joining together with so many other cadets from around the region is great and together celebrating such an important milestone for our parent organisation, the RAF.”
Head of the CCF (RAF), Wing Commander Martin Larwood-Hughes said: “I’m helping manage arrangements for the RAF Massed Voluntary Bands which will parade down The Mall ahead of the main parade – it’s taken a lot of planning and we’re exhilarated to take part.”
Afterwards Wg Cmdr Larwood-Hughes will attend the reception in Buckingham Palace accompanied by the winner of the prestigious Sir John Thomson Memorial Sword 2018 (best cadet in the CCF RAF) – CWO Charlotte Apel, 19.
Warrant Officers Colin Sharp and Brian Mannion, both of HQ RAFAC and formerly members of the highly respected RAF Queen’s Colour Squadron are in the thick of the celebrations putting their wide experience of running large events to good use marshalling the main parade.
Cadets on parade last month. Image: Flt Lt Phil Boorman
The RAF was formed towards the end of the First World War on April 1, 1918 and is the oldest independent air force in the world. It has supported the Air Training Corps unstintingly since its establishment in 1941 and in its early days as the Air Defence Cadet Corps in 1938. It has also supported the CCF (RAF) since its start in 1948.
The RAF100 Centenary Programme officially launched on 31 March 2018 with an opening gala concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
Cadets have already joined regular RAF service personnel on the anniversary baton relay through communities across the UK and at air shows, Armed Forces Day in Llandudno, Plymouth and many other locations.
They also acted as stewards at an anniversary concert in Lincoln Cathedral in May compèred by celebrity Myleene Klass[i] and assisted at the RAF100 national aircraft tour in Cardiff and other cities.
The range of aircraft on the tour covers the RAF's history from WW1 to WW2, the Cold War and the modern age.
In London, the static aircraft display at Horse Guards Parade includes an educational zone focused on aviation and aerospace activities, designed to encourage interest from air cadets and other young people.
The RAF100 celebrations will continue at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire (July 13th - 15th) and at Farnborough Air Show the following week (July 21th- 22nd).
Once again hundreds of cadets and scores of volunteers will be in attendance.
*If you are helping the RAF celebrate its centenary please make a noise on social media – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU @RAF100 AND #RAF100.
“Commemorate, Celebrate, Inspire”
[i] RAFAC Ambassador Hon. Gp Capt Carol Vorderman was to present the evening but was unwell and arranged for her friend Myleene Klass to compère. Thank you Carol and Myleene.