Representatives of five ages of airborne warfare took the salute yesterday as the Yorkshire Air Museum mounted a flypast to mark the centenary of the RAF.
Re-enactors assumed the roles of pilots from the First World War to the present day to mark the opening of a family event at the Elvington site, near York, with photo opportunities next to some of the vintage aircraft.
Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of the RAF as a separate entity, independent of the army and navy. Britain was the first country to take such a move, with the earlier Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service merging to form the new service.
At the museum, actors put on costumes to represent the earliest days of military flying, alongside uniforms from the Second World War and three from the post-war years.
The flypast by a Tucano aircraft was staged by nearby RAF Linton-on-Ouse, home to the force’s No1 Flying Training School. The museum also commissioned a centenary birthday cake for the occasion.
It has loaned one of its display aircraft to the RAF for forthcoming anniversary events in Paris and London.
Barbara George, the museum’s deputy director, said the holiday event “provides a great opportunity for families to learn together about the history of the Royal Air Force and the aircraft it has operated over 10 decades”.
The Elvington site was itself an RAF base – a substation of RAF Pocklington – from the start of the Second World War. It is now the largest independent air museum in the country and holds around 50 aircraft, along with an original Bomber Command station.
It also has the only Allied Air Forces memorial in Europe and an archive of 250,000 paper, film and photographic records from the RAF and allied forces during the Second World War.
In June it will unveil a timeline of its aircraft to illustrate the progression of aviation over the last century.