In two years, the SA Air Force (SAAF) will mark its centenary and one can only hope there are already officers assigned to the event and that they will do more than take notes of an event in London next week.
On Tuesday, the Royal Air Force (RAF) will celebrate its centenary in the way such milestones should be marked.
An official invitation to the people of the United Kingdom by the RAF has it that “On July 10, 100 days after our official 100th birthday, join us in London for our centrepiece event, the RAF100 parade and flypast”.
Using the tagline “Commemorate, Celebrate, Inspire” the world’s oldest air force asks the nation to come and see up to 100 aircraft in a mass flypast over London, including Buckingham Palace where the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and other members of the Royal Family will witness the historic flypast.
Aircraft listed to take part are the Red Arrows, Typhoon FGR4, Lightning, Tornado GR4, Hawk R1 and T2, E-10 Sentry, Rivet Joint RC-135W, Voyager, Sentinel, BAE146, C-17 Globemaster, A400M Atlas, Hercules C-130J, Shadow R1, Tucano T1, Prefect F2, Hurricane, Spitfire, Lancaster, Dakota, Jupiter H145, Juno H135, Chinook HC4 and Puma HC2.
For South African military aviation enthusiasts the RAF points out there will be live coverage on BBC One from 09h30 to 13h20pm (GMT) as well as streaming on BBC iPlayer.
Tuesday will also see the finish of the RAF100 baton relay in London on the Horse Guards Parade. It marks the end of a journey by a specially designed baton which visited 100 sites associated with the RAF in 100 days of running and other means of transport carried by RAF personnel, cadets, veterans and members of sporting associations in the RAF.
Another component in the extensive RAF centenary is the RAF100 aircraft tour. This sees many RAF aircraft, some of which are given “icon” status, in city locations around the country. Cites on the list are Newcastle, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester.
While it was not a milestone comparable to a centenary, the SAAF’s 90th anniversary three years ago was best described as “low key”. Its public debut, as such, was the SAAF Prestige Awards held the evening prior to Air Force Day, the first Friday in February. Guests at the Prestige Awards evening were given a commemorative coffee mug to mark the anniversary.
Recently elected SAAF Association (SAAFA) president, retired Colonel Mike Louw, told members the 2020 centenary of the SAAF will coincide with the 75th year of existence of SAAFA.
“As an association we will be duty bound to celebrate in the best possible spirit this auspicious occasion for both the SAAF and SAAFA,” he wrote in the Association’s national newsletter.