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
Few partnerships between our business and the Royal Air Force are as enduring as our partnership with 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron.
This squadron is dedicated to ensuring Typhoon remains a world-leading multi-role combat aircraft and sees RAF personnel working alongside our people to deliver its capability.
Today, this partnership sees us working alongside 41 Squadron personnel on Project Centurion, which will ensure Typhoon is equipped to replace the Tornado GR4 when it retires in 2019.
The squadron's connections to both Typhoon and Tornado go back to 2006 when it operated the Tornado F3 and GR4, before becoming a Typhoon squadron in 2013.
The squadron served with distinction in the Second World War, operating the Supermarine Spitfire built by our predecessor companies.
One of its pilots, Flt Lt Eric Lock, was the most successful RAF pilot during the Battle of Britain.
Many of us will be aware that on Sunday 1 April the Royal Air Force launched RAF100, a national campaign to mark its 100th year.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier gave lectures in London and Edinburgh to launch the campaign, and there have been some great interviews and programmes on the BBC over the last week, including with our customers at RAF Stations throughout the UK.
Reflecting on its proud record of serving the nation, the RAF100 campaign focuses on 3 themes which will: COMMEMORATE the service and sacrifice of those who have gone before; CELEBRATE its service men and women who continue to aid and protect people around the world; and INSPIRE the next generation, helping them to fulfil their potential and their future aspirations.
Leonardo is proud to be an official partner of the Royal Air Force for RAF100. We have a strong heritage over the past 100 years of helping the RAF maintain operational advantage through innovation in the design, development and production of airborne capability. Many people working within our business have either joined us following a career with the Royal Air Force, or they continue to serve as Reserves or active members of their local Air Cadet Squadrons.
Centenary events, activities and initiatives will run nationwide from April to the end of September 2018. The enduring intent of the initiative, to inspire young people towards careers in aerospace and engineering, will run well into next year and beyond. This is obviously something that our business is already very active in supporting. We look forward to celebrating this very significant milestone with direct participation in initiatives and events throughout 2018, including:
RAF100 Parade and Fly Past – London – 10 July
100 aircraft, representing the RAF’s history, will fly over Buckingham Palace and thousands of servicemen and women will take part in a parade through London.
RAF100 Augmented Reality Flypast App
From May, an app will become available enabling people to 'collect' aircraft and build their own flypast. More information to follow….
More information on RAF100 can be found on RAF100 the Royal Air Force website: https://www.raf.mod.uk/raf100/
Please find below just a few of the projects through which we have supported the RAF over the years:
by Hutchings D Laura on 15/08/2016 14:47We recently took part in the RAF Coningsby bi-annual family day, where ten thousand visitors were treated to impressive flying displays, including one of the first public displays of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster bomber this season. Visitors to the QinetiQ stand got to play with robotic grabbing arms, scratch programming and line-following Lego robots* manned by our three teams permanently based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
“This is the first time we’ve supported our customer’s family day and was a great opportunity to increase awareness of the work QinetiQ does among the station personnel,” says Cyber, Information & Training (CIT) Graduate, Henry Nelson. “Our STEM style stand aimed to inspire and entertain visitors of all ages and was a clear success, busy from start to finish.”
We have developed a strong team ethic with our customer over eight years at the site and, as a result, were privileged to be involved in this event and other centenary celebrations for 41(R) Test & Evaluation Squadron (TES), which provides all of the MODs test and evaluation for Typhoon and Tornado aircraft.
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