One hundred days after the RAF’s official 100th birthday on 1 April, the RAF marked 100 years of operations with a series of spectacular events in London.
Over 1,000 RAF servicemen and women performed a ceremonial parade, along with almost 300 personnel lining the route, representing the diverse roles played within the RAF through the generations.
There was also a flypast of 103 aircraft over Buckingham Palace representing the RAF’s history, its continued operational role in securing the UK’s skies, and the future of air power.
Parade and Flypast
The parade was commanded by Group Captain Anne-Marie Houghton, a Sentry navigator from Headquarters Air Command. Group Captain Houghton has the distinction of being the first female navigator in the Royal Air Force after she graduated from training in 1991.
As part of the event, 55 Squadron Standards were paraded including that of 617 Squadron, famous for its role in the Dambusters raids which was recently reformed in 2018 to fly the UK’s new F-35b Lightning II fighter jets.
Her Majesty the Queen also presented a new Queen's Colour to the Royal Air Force at a consecration ceremony. The original Colour was presented in 1951.
The flypast consisted of up to 103 aircraft with nearly 200 aircrew from 25 different RAF Squadrons, operating to and from 14 military stations and two civilian airfields. As well as the pilots flying the aircraft, the events were only be made possible thanks to the hard work of aircrew, support teams and Air Traffic Controllers. Their vital role in delivering the flypast reflects the fact that over 80% of job roles in the RAF are related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.
The flypast was made up of the following 19 aircraft, that passed over the Palace at 30 second intervals:
- Lightning – the RAF’s next generation fast jet
- Puma – the RAF’s advanced medium-sized, medium lift transport helicopter
- Chinook - the twin-rotor heavy lift helicopter
- Juno – the new training helicopter which has replaced the Squirrel
- Jupiter – the new advanced training helicopter which has replaced the Griffin
- Dakota - the Berlin Airlift transporter which helped to move nearly 9,000 tons of essentials every day
- Lancaster – the iconic Bomber Command veteran aircraft; one of only 2 airworthy Lancaster’s in the world
- Hurricane – the battle-hardened workhorse of WWII Fighter Command
- Spitfire - the iconic Battle of Britain fighter. The Spitfire was produced in larger numbers than any other aircraft before or since
- Prefect – the new Elementary Flying Training aircraft which has replaced the Tutor
- Tucano – the RAF’s long-serving basic fast jet flying training aircraft
- Shadow – the RAF’s advanced intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance aircraft
- Hercules – the workhorse of Britain’s tactical military air transport and humanitarian capabilities. First operational in the RAF over 50 years ago
- Atlas A400M – the RAF’s new, cutting-edge strategic air transport aircraft
- C-17 – the key to Britain’s global strategic air transport capabilities
- BAe 146 – the RAF’s short-range personnel transport and logistical support aircraft
- Sentinel – the RAF’s world-leading battlefield surveillance and intelligence gathering aircraft
- Voyager – the state-of-the-art air-to-air refuelling and global passenger transport aircraft
- Rivet Joint – the mainstay of Britain’s aerial electronic signals intelligence gathering capability
- E-3D Sentry – the battle-proven airborne early warning and command and control platform. An air traffic control system in the sky
- Hawk T1 – the RAF’s advanced fast jet pilot training aircraft
- Hawk T2 – the latest version of the RAF’s long-serving Hawk fast jet trainer
- Tornado GR4 – the RAF’s longest-serving strike and reconnaissance fast jet
- Typhoon – the backbone of Britain’s air attack and quick reaction capabilities
- Red Arrows – the RAF’s elite aerobatic team