in Aerospace / Defence / Events

RIAT set to celebrate RAF Centenary

Posted 26 April 2018 · Add Comment

The RAF has confirmed that the full battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) - Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane and Dakota - will be part of the special RAF Centenary celebrations at The Royal International Airshow, alongside the Red Arrows and Typhoon display teams and the Grob Tutor display.

The airforces of many of Britain's allies will also contribute to the festivities which aim to highlight not only the RAF's past but also its future. They include The French Air Force, which will send its Couteau Delta tactical display team comprised of two Mirage 2000D fighters, along with its front line multirole Rafale C fighter in its own solo display. One the ground will be two Alpha Jet trainers joining the large static display expected for this year's show. The French Army has also confirmed a pair of Puma helicopters, not seen at the Air Tattoo for some years.

The curtain was raised on RAF Centenary celebrations at a Gala Evening at the Royal Albert Hall in London earlier this month, over the Easter weekend.


Photo Jon Salmon

Compered by TV historian Dan Snow and RAF Air Cadets Honorary Group Captain Carol Vorderman, the evening was a rousing mix of live music, recitals, sketches and video.

First class musicians from the Massed Bands of the Royal Air Force, under the assured baton of the RAF's Principal Director of Music Wing Commander Piers Morrell, were ever-present on stage and provided a magnificent soundtrack to the evening's entertainment.

Among those in the packed hall were RAF Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier; the last remaining British Dambuster Squadron Leader George 'Johnny' Johnson and Falklands War veteran and Vulcan pilot Flight Lieutenant Martin Withers.

The evening included a meticulous drill display by the Queen's Colour Squadron and a parade featuring serving and veteran members of the RAF who each represented various RAF campaigns over the years.

There was high emotion when RAF nurse Wing Commander Charlie Thompson-Edgar and paramedic Squadron Leader Andy Smith were joined on stage by former Royal Marine officer Jon White, Britain's first triple amputee in the war in Afghanistan. It was the first time the three had met since Jon's life was saved by the RAF's medical emergency response team. The three were given a standing ovation.

Among the guest performers on the night were Simply Red's Mick Hucknall; McFly's Tom Fletcher and Danny Jones, male vocal group Blake, singer Alexandra Burke, the RAF Spitfires Choir, actor Russell Tovey and Dame Penelope Keith, who recited the Noel Coward poem Lie In The Dark and Listen.

Finally, the show saw one of Tony Hancock's most famous comedy sketches - The Test Pilot - recreated live for the first time in 60 years. Hancock joined the RAF in 1943, not long after his older brother, Colin, died in action in September 1942 aged only 24. Hancock's family, along with the families of scriptwriters Galton and Simpson, gave their blessing to the performance, which featured actors Kevin McNally and Robin Sebastian, both of whom starred in BBC Radio 4's The Missing Hancocks.

The RAF100 event, which was sponsored by BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin, was staged in support of the RAF Charitable Trust.

 

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