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4.   A Celebration of the Royal Air Force

Last week the RAF launched a programme of celebration events to mark the 90th anniversary of its formation

RAF, 31/3/2008


Speaking to a large audience at the RAF museum at Hendon in west London, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy spoke of the strength, pride and ethos of the RAF:

"90 years is a significant milestone," he said. "What we have seen over those years is the essential role the RAF has played. Indeed, we have seen the changing nature of warfare, from those very flimsy aircraft over the trenches of France, to events of the last 25 years: the Falklands, the first Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Its easy to forget that the RAF has now been flying continuously in the Middle East for 17 years."



Sir Glenn announced several events to mark the RAFs 90th anniversary over the coming months. On the anniversary day itself, 1 April, there will be a flypast over London at 1300 hours involving Typhoons and the Red Arrows. Additionally at a VIP dinner at the RAF Museum later that evening an aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a number of Typhoons will perform a further flypast. The climax of the celebrations will be at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire in July.

Both past and present were represented at todays launch. Remarkably, 111-year-old Henry Allingham, a veteran of the Royal Naval Air Service, one of the elements that formed the RAF in 1918, was a centre of attention.

Outside the museum, the famous Chinook helicopter Bravo November had flown in from its base at RAF Odiham. Bravo November, which recently served in Afghanistan, has fought in every conflict since the Falklands War.

Sir Glenn was asked how it felt to be 90.

"It feels very good," he said. "Because the service has achieved an incredible amount over the years. One only has to look back at some of the iconic events, such as the First World War, the Battle of Britain, the Berlin Airlift, the Cold War, the First Gulf War, the Falklands, and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan."

But what about the future how did Sir Glenn see the RAF developing?

"I think what well see is continued improvement in equipment, the way we train our people, our capabilities being networked together, and more synthetic training.

"The spirit, the ethos, the values and the pride people have in delivering air power is exactly the same today [as 90 years ago]. My grandfather was in the Royal Flying Corps, and I dont think he was much different from the University Air Squadron cadet I met last Friday."