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90 glorious years

The Royal Air Force marks its 90th birthday today. There will be a flypast over central London at 1pm, so if readers have a digital camera, keep it nearby.

13 comments to 90 glorious years

  • Nick M

    Well, at least it seems better than the what they did to mark the 50th anniversary – nothing until Flt Lt Pollock took it upon himself…

    In 1968 it was the RAF’s 50th birthday, yet the top brass did not see fit to mark this with any flypast, choosing instead for mere parades on the ground. Many RAF personnel were less than impressed and one Flt Lt Alan Pollock of 1(F) Squadron decided to mark the occasion in style – first with toilet-roll bombing missions against rival squadrons, and then on April 5th, while suffering from the beginnings of pneumonia which no doubt had some affect on his decision making processes, he flew his Hunter over London and at the last second decided to fly under the top span of Tower Bridge! Knowing of the consequences of his unauthorised trip, he proceeded to beat up several airfields and landed to meet his fate. It would be the end of his RAF career (he went on to run a successful exporting company), with political influences making sure he was treated incredibly unfairly – thrown out of the RAF with no right to appeal, no court martial at which he could present his case, medical evidence ignored, unable to meet with his superiors, etc. It took until 1982 for his case to be fully heard, and only then was he exonerated. Coincidentally, that same year the Hunter he had flown (XF442, which had been sold to the Chilean Air Force) was written off in an accident.

    – from the remarkable site Thunder & Lightnings.

    If you are an aerophile just don’t go there unless you’ve got an hour or to to spare.

  • Eamon Brennan

    One of the first jobs I ever did was producing a book on the history of the RFC in Ireland. The stories were amazing. Two that stick in my mind were how the IRB would create dummy airstrips in order to trick pilots into landing. The other concerns the day when power was handed over in 1922.

    The RFC had not been given enough time to strike their airbases so they dismantled their fighters and rebuilt them as machine gun turrets at the gates of their base. When the new government forces came along to appropriate the planes they were met with the prospect of getting cut to pieces or going away empty-handed. Naturally they chose the latter.

  • WalterBowsell

    My Uncle joined the RAF. Saw a lot of the world. Settled in New Zealand. I haven’t seen him since. The RAF owes me an Uncle.

  • RAB

    My dad cooked for a Catalina flying boat squadron, in Sri Lanka, during the war.
    Played a lot of golf, caught every tropical disease known to man, including recurring malaria.Never head a shot fired in anger.

    Does anyone know what the first ever plane to land at Bristol airport was?

    It was 1942 and the RAF had decided to turn the emergency landing strip at Lulsgate into a proper base.
    Its 6 am and the navvies are just finishing the last bit of tarmac, when out of the dawn comes this bomber and duely taxis in.
    The navvies were astonished to find that it was a German bomber. The crew were pretty astonished too.
    They thought they’d landed in France!
    They had been well confused by false radar and radio beacons we were putting up.
    A race ensued between the crew to get back in their plane, and the camp guards in a jeep.
    The guards won. For you Fritz ze war is over!
    They ended up in a Prison camp in Bridgend.

  • Michael T

    My father served for a while in the RAF as a navigator on Wellingtons, Lancasters and Halifaxes. He was due to make a routine flight to Malta in a Wellington and due to the rationing in effect in those days it was considered a good trip to get, having the chance to acquire certain luxuries such as silk stockings. However, he had a date lined up with my mum so he gave up his place on the trip. The Wellington never arrived in Malta.

  • WalterBowsell


    I’d have very much liked to have witnessed the celebrations first hand. About a week or so ago a single seater WWII type aircraft flew low over my street. I got very excited, if I was in London for this display I’d probably keel over.

  • Sigivald

    Brits call it a “flypast”, not a “flyby” or “flyover”?

    Learn somethin’ new every day.

  • RAB

    Because a flyover is a Bridge Sigivald.

  • Nick M

    I know this is the USAF but this always gets me Walter…


  • Paul Marks

    Yes indeed, ninety glorious years.

  • nick g.

    90 ‘glorious’ years?!!!
    It was the RAF that stopped European integration 68 years ago! Europe could have met the Yankee menace united, if only the raffers had just had the sense to let Germany’s leader fulfill his mandate, and LEAD!!!
    AND the RAF stole the limelight from the Navy! The Navy would have thought bravely, if asked, but the airboys grabbed all the credit!!! Shame, shame, shame!!!

  • nick g.

    By ‘thought bravely’, I meant ‘fought bravely’, as you might have guessed. Sorry about that.