The following article was originally published by Leonardo MW Ltd.
Last week saw the conclusion to a spectacular series of events that marked the Royal Air Force’s Centenary, RAF100 - a campaign which Leonardo has been very proud to support. The campaign has been ongoing since 01 April, the date on which the Royal Air Force was formally created in 1918.
On 20 September, a Leonardo team representing sites from around the UK, attended a series of poignant First World War commemorations in St Omer, France, and the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres), Belgium.
St Omer is known as the ‘spiritual birthplace’ of the Royal Air Force with its operational base for most of the First World War on the outskirts of town, the Bruyères Aerodrome next to the local race course. Four current-day RAF squadrons, represented on the day, trace their beginning directly to the aerodrome.
Our team attended a service of commemoration at the St Omer Cathedral, a local exhibition, then a memorial service at the Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery, during which schoolchildren laid flowers at the RAF and other air service graves. The day closed with a dedication ceremony, unveiling a plaque at the Aerodrome in the presence of ministers, personnel of all ranks, and The Viscount Lord Trenchard, the grandson of 1st Viscount Trenchard, the ﬁrst Chief of the Air Staff and the ‘Father of the Royal Air Force’. The strength of the UK - France relationships then and now were demonstrated by the warmth of the hospitality from the local community, and by the fly-pasts by both Air Forces.
RAF100 ceremony at the Royal Air Force’s very first operational base at Bruyères Aerodrome, St Omer, on the anniversary of the last aircraft from 41 Squadron leaving in 1918
Leonardo team attending the RAF100 celebrations in St Omer, ‘spiritual birthplace’ of the Royal Air Force.
Left to Right:Eddie Wilson-Chalon, Josh Sleeman, Sam Orr, Lynda McVay, Douglas Meikle, Yolanda Bullen, Arvind Mahendran, Jack Hempsall, Mark Gunning, Aran Bains
On the following Saturday and Sunday the Imperial War Museum at Duxford hosted its Battle of Britain Air Show with aircraft from throughout history thrilling a total of 50,000 visitors. It was an amazing flying programme which included the season finale of the Leonardo sponsored, RAF Typhoon Display Team, and 18 Spitfires flying, each with its own story told to the crowds.
There was even more for visitors to see in the Museum’s hangars, including iconic aircraft from our company history including the Airco DH9a, the Westland Lysander as well as the Westland Whirlwind and Wessex helicopters. Also, following its first appearance at Farnborough Air Show this year, the concept model for the UK’s next generation combat air system, Tempest was on display.
The Air Show reflected the RAF100 themes of Commemorate, Celebrate and Inspire. Continuing Leonardo’s work in support of the Inspire theme, our team of STEM ambassadors from across Leonardo’s Apprentice and Graduate community once again did a fantastic job engaging the public with a range of exciting, interactive activities. Highlights included our Eurofighter VR Maintenance Training competition, seeing youngsters battling to beat the clock in preparing e the aircraft for flight, our ever popular thermal imaging technology, Leonardo Helicopters’ aerodynamic wind table, as well as our ‘future selfie’ kiosk all of which successfully drew in the crowds!
The finale to the Centenary celebrations was played out in spectacular style with a stunning flying display by the RAF’s Red Arrows, which had visitors truly spellbound, and marked the end to what has been a remarkable and poignant campaign.
Thank you to everyone in Leonardo who has contributed throughout this year.
RAF100 celebrations in St Omer
Imperial War Museum's Aircraft Display including Westland Whirlwind (on the right)
Concept model for the UK’s next generation combat air system, Tempest
Leonardo's UK STEM ambassadors inspire youngsters
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