Published in Midwest Flyer – October/November 2018 issue
OSHKOSH, WIS. – The 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force was commemorated with historic aircraft, flyovers, and special programming during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, July 23-29, 2018, at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Primary focus on the centennial took place on July 24.
“From the World War I era, to the Battle of Britain and early jets, to today’s modern military aircraft, the RAF has been an integral part of aviation history,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programs, who coordinates AirVenture features and attractions.
The aircraft on display on the showcase Boeing Plaza and flying during the airshow included an array of World War I and World War II aircraft, some of the early fighter jets, and modern RAF aircraft. Aircraft included those in British markings, as well as those from Commonwealth nations such as Canada. Among the aircraft scheduled to participate was a de Havilland Venom that unfortunately crashed July 20, 2018, the weekend prior to AirVenture in Sheboygan, Wis., killing its pilot, Martin Tibbitts, 50, of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. Tibbitts was a cofounder of the World Heritage Air Museum in Detroit and Pontiac, Michigan, which owns eight vintage planes, including the Venom (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Royal Air Force was formally founded on April 1, 1918, with the merger of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. The service grew and became known for its extraordinary heroism during the Battle of Britain in the early days of World War II, as well as the development of many early fighter jets, such as the Gloster Meteor and de Havilland Vampire.
The RAF was the first service to use the Harrier jump jet after its development in the 1960s, with RAF aircraft and personnel still on active duty in many parts of the world today.