Britain’s new fighter jet will be at the centre of the most spectacular flypast in recent memory when the RAF celebrates its 100th anniversary this summer. It will be the debut appearance of the Lightning, and the first time the public have seen it since it arrived in the UK earlier this month.
On July 10 up to 100 RAF aircraft from across the generations will roar in formation through London’s skies. The display is due to pass over Buckingham Palace at 1pm and will contain the most varied range of RAF aircraft in an aerial formation since the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
A range of aircraft will be featured, marking different eras of the RAF history. Historic aircraft including the iconic Spitfire will fly alongside some of the most state-of-the-art aircraft in the nation’s inventory. The Hercules, the workhorse of Britain’s tactical military air transport and affectionately known as the ‘Fat Albert’, will also lumber into view.
A parade of 1,000 RAF personnel will march from House Guards Road up The Mall to the Palace, with the route lined by another 300 colleagues showing the diverse roles played within the RAF through the years.
Air Chief Marshal, Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Stephen Hillier said: “This once-in-a-lifetime flypast will provide an iconic centrepiece for the RAF100 celebrations.
“In our centenary year we are commemorating those that have come before us, celebrating our current personnel and, ultimately, inspiring a new generation to write the next chapters in the RAF’s story.”
Twenty different models are set to participate, ranging from battle planes such as the Hurricane to modern surveillance and intelligence models including the Sentinel and Shadow jets.
The Sentinel, the RAF’s battlefield surveillance and intelligence gathering aircraft, will be on display, joining the twin-rotor Chinook helicopter and the Dakota, which moved nearly 9,000 tons of essentials every day during the Berlin Airlift.
Air Chief Marshal Hillier added: “While the aircraft in the skies on July 10 will offer a striking visual representation of the United Kingdom’s air power throughout the RAF’s existence, it is also important to remember that there is a large and multi-skilled team behind every aircraft participating.
“The complex preparations required to deliver this display are made possible by the RAF’s cutting-edge technology and ongoing spirit of relentless innovation.”
The aircraft will begin to assemble to the west of Ipswich at around 12.45pm, passing near Colchester and Chelmsford before crossing the M25 and thundering towards the Palace through Redbridge, Wanstead, Leyton, the Olympic Park, Hackney, Bethnal Green and Shoreditch.
Exhibiting history at the same time as making it, the nine-minute body of planes will fly over the Palace, before splitting into three groups over the respective Runnymeade, Hendon, and the Windsor areas.
Aircraft enthusiasts unable to wait can visit the RAF100 Aircraft Tour on Horse Guards Parade between 6-9 July to explore the history and legacy of the exhibited planes.