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100-year fly past; Travel.

ONE hundred years ago the Royal Air Force was formed by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. This year the heroes of our skies, both past and present, will be celebrated up and down the land.

Big night

On the eve of the centenary of the formation of the RAF - April 1, 1918 - London's Royal Albert Hall will host a gala evening for RAF100.

This once-in-a-lifetime occasion is designed to celebrate and commemorate the iconic and poignant moments of the past, as well as inspiring the next 100 years by its involvement of the upcoming generation of RAF recruits.

The star-studded programme features outstanding music, comedy, ceremonial drill, screen footage and personal recollections by those who have served and continue to serve, in the defence of our country.

The bands of the Royal Air Force, the Royal Air Force Squadronaires and Salon Orchestra alongside the Queen's Colour Squadron and the RAF Air Cadets will all be performing.

Tickets for the March 31 events, costing from PS28, will support the RAF Charitable Trust. See airtattoo.com/concert-tour/rah.

Plane nostalgia

The flatlands of Lincolnshire represent the spiritual home of the RAF.

This is Dam Busters country, location of the world's first military air academy - RAF Cranwell. And its skies are still home of the RAF's Red Arrows - RAF Scampton - and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - RAF Coningsby.

For RAF100, at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, a family-owned aviation museum based on a 1940s RAF airfield, you can experience the vibrations, sounds and smells of a Lancaster as you taxi across a real Bomber Command airfield in front of an original control tower. Entry PS8.50. See lincsaviation.co.uk.

Home front

The historic cathedral city of Lincoln is spearheading a new digital trail titled "100 voices over 100 years" giving an insight into a century of aviation history through the voices of those involved, from an aircraft factory worker to a firefighter - visitlincoln.com.

While in the county you can stay on a former RAF weapons range that was once used to train the Dam Busters squadron. Historic RAF Wainfleet, near the Lincs coast, has been transformed into four self-catering units, with the control tower boasting 360 degree views across the surrounding nature reserve and over The Wash - plus there's a private hot tub. Sleeps six, from PS439 for three nights - cottages.com.

Tree time

Over in Staffordshire the National Memorial Arboretum is the UK's year-round centre of remembrance where, among its 30,000 maturing trees and more than 300 significant memorials, are ten which commemorate the RAF, including a Remembrance Garden.

The new PS15.7million Remembrance Centre hosts the Landscapes of Life Exhibition. Free entry, but donation suggested, thenma.org.uk.

FAST Hants

Farnborough Airfield, home of the famous air show which returns again this year - July 16-22, farnboroughairshow.com - played a fundamental role in the formation of the RAF.

This is where the Royal Flying Corps, predecessor of the RAF, was created. What was once the Royal Aircraft Factory now houses a specialist museum called Farnborough Air Soh Sciences Trust, or FAST for short. The museum, on a hill overlooking the Farnborough runway, has lots of historic inventions on display, from the first airborne cameras and flight clothing to high altitude "space suits" and night vision aids.

FAST is planning a special exhibition to celebrate RAF100. Entry free, airsciences.org.uk.

Top Tattoo

The Royal International Air Tattoo, which takes place at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire from Juth July 13-15, has been chosen by the RAF to be the official international celebration of RAF100.

That means a bigger, more diverse static display on the ground, plus a flying programme which will be adjusted to include classics from the RAF's 100 years, plus flypast contributions from other nations' air forces.

It will be a unique gathering both on land and the air. One day ticket PS55, airtattoo.com.

It's not just the magnificent men, and women, in their flying machines who have successfully defended our nation - we owe a lot to radar too, the invention of which made a huge difference to the outcome of the Second World War.

NEW WAVE: Track invention of radar ur Much of the development work was done at the Bawdsey Manor Estate near Woodbridge in Suffolk, where the transmitter building is undergoing a complete transformation - to be completed this Easter and tying in with RAF100.

The state-of-the-art visitor centre will include an interactive exhibition sharing the global story of radar. Entry PS6.50, www.bawdseyradar.org.uk.

Sit in a Spit

London's RAF Museum is based in Hendon, some distance outside the city centre to the north. In June it will reopen two galleries dedicated to the next 100 years. Meanwhile its sister museum, RAF Cosford, west of Birmingham, will be offering visitors the rare chance to get a closer look inside cockpits and vehicles from the collection. Entry free to both, but a car parking charge applies. See rafmuseum.org.uk.

Mall march

A showpiece event of RAF100 will be the centenary service in London's Westminster Abbey on July 10, followed by a parade down the Mall involving up to 1,500 servicemen and women, and a ROYAL SKYNESS: Fly-past over flypast of more than 100 aircraft over Buckingham Palace. Given the Palace link, it's safe to expect members of the Royal Family will be there too, but details have yet to be released.

For the three days preceding the service and parade, Horse Guards Parade will be hosting the National Aircraft Tour - a static display of historic airplanes which will also be visiting Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Newcastle in Northern Ireland during the year. For more info see raf.mod.uk/raf100.

Lots more

This is just the tip of the iceberg. All sorts celebrations, from high profile to ultra local, are taking place all over the land - including the RAF Baton Relay, which will visit 100 sites associated with the RAF in 100 days, starting from April 1. Consult the website for more details, raf.mod.uk/raf100.

CAPTION(S):

MEMORIAL: Battle of Britain fly-past

PLAN: How Hendon's Sunderland aircraft will be displayed

NEW WAVE: Track invention of radar

TATTOO DRAMATIC: Display at Fairford

ROYAL SKYNESS: Fly-past over palace

HISTORIC LINCS: City has tribute to aircraft workers

LIVING HISTORY: Arboretum has a remembrance garden

FAST ONE: Farnborough hosts its air show in July

ACE SHOW: RAF Museum, Hendon
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 11, 2018
Words:1075
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