RAF Day 2018
Every year in May we close the Museum’s London site for one day to welcome RAF veterans and current serving personnel and to celebrate and commemorate with them their precious legacy. In 2018, the RAF’s Centenary year, this very special reunion happened on 10 May.
This day is a brilliant and unique opportunity for all staff at the Museum to say BIG THANK YOU to all RAF personnel from the past and present – as well as future members of the Service. As a Museum dedicated to the RAF we can’t be grateful enough for all the help, support, invaluable objects and incredible real-life stories which the RAF provides for us so that we can share them with our visitors.
Over 1,000 extraordinary people, who served or are currently serving in the RAF, came from around the world to join this glorious celebration. Our audience was very broad and diverse from grey-haired and decorated war heroes to young cadets. But they all had one thing in common, the RAF.
Each of our guests had the thrilling opportunity of a special preview of our brand-new exhibitions, that will be opening on 30 June. Our new exhibitions are designed specifically to convey the RAF’s story and to bring it to life through real-life stories and our unique collection.
Museum CEO Maggie Appleton explained: ‘We do have an audience which is mainly beginners in terms of understanding the RAF, so it’s important that we talk in an accessible way and everything that we are sharing is based on tip-top research and the story is pinned to today so it’s grounded in the reality’.
Visitors, on the day, were excited and inspired by the new galleries. They appreciated our forward-thinking approach and the authenticity of all the objects as well as the interactive experiences available on the site.
Special guest Deputy Commander Operations, Air Marshal Stuart Atha remarked: ‘Telling stories is what the RAF Museum is all about and I think that the RAF Museum has done us proud at the way they have translated the RAF’s 100 years of history into the fantastic spaces that you see today.’
Guests were also treated to a breath-taking musical performance from The Jive Aces accompanied by two of The Satin Dollz, The Duettes and one half of Twin Swing near the Sunderland Flying Boat. Their rip-roaring and energetic music and much-loved songs were so irresistibly infectious, that many of our guests couldn’t help but rock up on the dance floor switching different dance styles to the amazement of the younger generations.
The celebration also featured the Presentation of the Bomber Command Association National Standard which very symbolically happened under our amazing Avro Lancaster. The presentation gathered a lot of current and former Bomber Command personnel, including the true war heroes, who flied Lancasters as young as 17.
As a RAF Museum Trustee and former Harrier Force Commander Malcolm White said: ‘To parade the Standard under the Lancaster recognises the past and but in our view, cements the future. In that respect for everyone who served in Bomber Command and indeed those at the Museum who have supported the Association this is a very special moment’.
The celebration also provided all our guests with a precious chance to meet their colleges and to catch up with them. Maybe not 100, but at least 60-70 years of the RAF was represented on this day on our site by the real-life characters and their amazing stories.
It was, and will continue to be, a unique and invaluable privilege for us to welcome all of them and turn the celebration in a truly memorable and sentimental gathering. As Air Marshal Stuart Atha stated: ‘The RAF 100 is about you. It is about saluting you, thanking you for your service, and commemorating those who have sacrificed their lives’.