A Celebration of the Royal Air Force
Last week the RAF launched a
programme of celebration events to mark the 90th anniversary of its
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. It’s 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 RAF’s 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
today’s 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 we’ll 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 don’t
think he was much different from the University Air Squadron cadet I met