The RAF Centenary at the Museum
This year Royal Air Force is celebrating its 100th anniversary. It has been a long and breath-taking journey from the early aviation pioneers, explorers and daredevils on 1918 to the modern heroes, peacekeepers and fighting force of today that works with the cutting-edge technologies in the disaster zones across the globe.
The RAF Museum is honoured to be involved in the 6-months’ programme of commemorations and celebrations that commenced on Saturday 31 March with the Royal Air Force Gala at the Royal Albert Hall.
On Easter Sunday 1 April both sites of the Royal Air Force Museum in London and in Cosford organised an amazing birthday celebration to mark this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. It was fantastic to see so many people, families with children, youngsters and senior visitors, joining us in celebrating and commemorating the RAF’s Centenary.
Our London site was visited by 15,000 people, and each visitor had a fascinating opportunity to experience all the exciting and unique activities we had prepared. One of the highlights of the day was undoubtedly the immersive show from Front of House Theatre Company bringing to life the stories of the early aviators from 1918, such as Lieutenant Indra Lal Roy, India’s first flying ace, Robbie Clarke, Britain’s first black pilot, and Grace Mary Berry one of the first member’s of the Women’s Royal Air Force with her diary. Our younger visitors were delighted and ‘mesmerised’, as they discovered an important part of RAF and UK history.
Our London birthday guests were also taking pictures in the real First World War flying jackets in front of our beautiful aircraft, painting dozens of their own RAF flags, discovering the story of Hendon airfield and early aviation in Hendon and finally cheering the RAF100 Baton Relay team , who had successfully completed their first day taking the RAF100 Baton from St Clement Dane’s Church, the Royal Air Force’s church, in the Strand as part of its 100 day journey across the globe. Our London site was the first of the 100 RAF related stations across the whole world, which the RAF100 Baton Relay team will visit by July 10 – a 100 days from the start of its journey.
Our celebration at Cosford lasted for 2 days, Easter Sunday and the Bank Holiday Monday. During this 2-days festival our Cosford site also proved hugely popular and was attended by over 11,000 visitors – with a total of 15,000 visiting during the Easter weekend. Over 80 re-enactors from across the country brought our Cosford to life with their displays depicting amazing RAF stories through the years. Highlights included Vulcan storytelling, engine demonstrations and uniform and artefact handling.
Both celebrations had such an amazing, joyful and uplifting atmosphere that we are confident they have inspired some of our younger visitors to take the RAF forward into the next 100 years.
As mentioned before both of those outstanding events were just a mere part of the 6-month’s celebration of the RAF Centenary the RAF Museum is involved in.
This summer our London site will re-open after the successful completion of the RAF Centenary Transformation Programme. This will provide our visitors with a much improved visitor experience including a fully re-landscaped site, offering a new green space in the heart of Colindale ; 3 new magnificent exhibitions with plenty of new exhibits never
seen by the public before; plus new ways to access our collection both on and off-line as befits a world-class museum connected with
a global audience.
We look forward to welcoming you again and invite you to explore from this summer our expanded collection – which will offer richer engagement and people-focused
We also hope that you will make the most of this 6 month’s of celebrations and commemorations by participating in many of the RAF 100 activities taking place in your local area… and if you see the #RAFBatonRelay Team on their journey over the next 95 days, please shout out your encouragement. Their arrival at Horseguards Parade on 10 July will be spectacular.