RAF centenary: the past, present and future of the world's first independent air force

RAF chinookOn 1 April 2018, the RAF celebrates its centenary.  

One hundred years ago, King George V authorised the creation of a new branch of the British military, in response to the growing role of air power in warfare. This was created by merging the aviation branches of the Royal Navy and British Army together into a single service, the Royal Air Force.

Parliament debated and then passed the Air Force (Constitution) Act 1917, which was given royal assent on 29 November 1917 (Gazette issue 30409).

This year, a calendar of local and national events will reflect on past achievements, commemorating the history of the RAF and those who have served in it, as well as celebrating the important role the RAF continues to play in serving the British people and its allies across the globe, from helping in civil emergencies to keeping UK airspace safe.

The RAF also wants to inspire future generations by highlighting the importance of science and engineering skills through the RAF100 Youth/Stem programme. This programme will reach up to 2 million students aged 9 to 15.

Special events, activities and other initiatives will run from April until the end of September 2018. 

The centrepiece of RAF100 activity takes place on 10 July 2018, with a centenary service in Westminster Abbey, followed by a parade in The Mall and mass flypast.

There are also RAF100 events planned throughout the UK and in the US, South Africa, Turkey, Germany, and a variety of global high commissions and embassies.

RAF displayKey events to mark the centenary

  • 31 March: Opening concert: Royal Albert Hall, London
  • 1 April: RAF100 Baton relay commences
  • 16/20 May: National Aircraft Tour, Cardiff City Hall Gardens  
  • 10 June: RAF Cosford Airshow  
  • 21 June: RAF Museum re-opening ceremony, London 
  • 6/9 July: National Aircraft Tour, Horse Guards Parade, London
  • 10 July: RAF100 parade and flypast, The Mall, London 
  • 13/15 July: Royal International  Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford
  • 10/12 August: National Aircraft Tour, Newcastle, N Ireland 
  • 14/16 August: National Aircraft Tour, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester
  • 25/27 August: National Aircraft Tour, Victoria Square, Birmingham
  • 1/2 September: National Aircraft Tour, Glasgow Science Centre
  • 1/2 September: Northern Ireland Airshow, Portrush 
  • 16 September: Battle of Britain service, London

See the map for the latest events in your area, and learn about important milestones in the RAF timeline.

Images: crown copyright

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