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Calling all Bluebirds, Penguins and 'Erbs - Your Museum Needs You!

Published on: 01 October 2016

The RAF Museum RAF Centenary Logo2018 marks the Centenary of the Royal Air Force.  

The award-winning Royal Air Force Museum will celebrate and commemorate this anniversary through a major transformation of our visitor experience sharing the RAF story on site and online. New, innovative galleries will explore the first 100 years of the RAF, its roles today and invite visitors to imagine its future contribution and technology. A new digital sharing project will promote a conversation with a global audience and help connect people to the RAF story.   

For the past two years the Museum’s curators, have been researching our world-class collections to select stories and objects that will best enable our visitors to engage with the story of the Royal Air Force. As a result, gaps in our collections have been identified and we are calling upon current and ex-Service personnel, who served in the RAF from 1970 to 2015, their families and members of the public to assist us in filling them.

An artist's impression of what part of our First 100 Years of the RAF exhibition will look like.

If you served with the RAF during this time, and particularly in Northern Ireland, the Falklands War, the First or Second Gulf Wars, Libya, Afghanistan or on any humanitarian mission since the 1970s, we would love to hear from you. 

We are focusing on collecting personal papers, photographs, recent campaign medals from RAF sources, and any operational kit or clothing which can be linked to specific operations or stories – particularly any ‘Black Bags’ received from Operation HERRICK or TELIC.

An artist's impression of what the entrance to our First World War in the Air exhibition will look like.

Nina Hadaway, Archive Library and Research Manager for the Museum, explains:

‘We are aware that our current holdings are quite thin for the most recent 40 years of RAF history. As we look towards the RAF’s Centenary in 2018, now is an ideal time to try and fill these gaps. With the help of the public, former and current serving personnel we hope to strengthen the Museum’s collections. This will enable us to share more fully the experiences of those serving in the RAF from the 1970s to the present day with all our visitors.’

We would also welcome contact from volunteers who would be happy to be interviewed about their RAF experiences.

If you are able to assist us, please email us in the first instance at: collections.donations@rafmuseum.org

This will enable us to arrange for a member of our curatorial team to contact you. Alternatively, please complete a Donate an Artefact Form.

For a full list of the items that we are searching for, please go to Donate An Artefact to the Centenary Appeal.

Editor's Notes

In RAF slang :

  • A Penguin is a member of ground staff, who, like penguins do not fly
  • A Bluebird is a ‘WAAF’ or female member of the RAF. From the bluebird of happiness
  • An ‘Erb is any pilot or airman


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