The RAF centenary

By | Category: Travel news

This year is the centenary of the founding of the RAF and there will be many events  – at least thirty – throughout our countries celebrating the fact.

Initially called the Royal Flying Corps when an aviation section of the armed forces was first set up in 1912, it merged with the Royal Naval Air Service on 1 April 1918 (why pick this date?) to form the Royal Air Force and April 1st 2018 will be the major anniversary day although events will continue throughout the year.

Today, the man who was the first Officer Commanding the Military Wing of the RFC, Frederick Sykes, is largely forgotten by military historians but the locations of many of the early events are available for visitors to see.

At Farnborough in Hampshire where, in 1906, the Royal Engineers Balloon School was established and the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (open free each weekend and during the week for pre-arranged groups) located at the site celebrates this in its museum. It was also from Farnborough that the first successful powered flight by Samuel Cody in Britain took place in 1908 and here you will find which houses a replica of the plane in which he flew. Here the Royal Aircraft Establishment, formerly the Royal Aircraft Factory was set up in 1918. This year’s Farnborough Airshow (from July 16-22) will be a special event as the first one hundred years are also remembered.

At the RAF Museum sites in both Hendon (North London) and Cosford (Shropshire), there will be events throughout the year celebrating the centenary as well as RAF history. At Portrush in Northern Ireland there will be a free air show on September 1st and 2nd (Air Waves Portrush) which will include centenary celebrations. An exhibition highlighting the role of airships has already opened at the Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum near Sleaford in Lincolnshire. At RAF Scampton – also in Lincolnshire, the Dambusters Hangar will be turned into a WWI airfield with three WWI aircraft flying in to form part of a static display as from the 5th of April.

Like many people, I have links with the RFC/RAF. My grandfather joined the RFC during WWI after being gassed in the trenches as a soldier. How he passed the medical I will never know but serve he did. During WWII, my uncle served as a rear gunner towards the end of the war and two cousins were pilots both losing their lives. This centenary year will be one to remember the sacrifices the RFC/RAF  made for us.

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