RAF Centenary Flypast over Central London 10 July 2018

There isn’t much that can bring Londoners to a halt - or even slow them down slightly from their usual breakneck pace - but at 1255 BST (GMT +1) today, every inch of accessible roof space for miles, on both banks of the River Thames and beyond, was crowded for the Great Flypast to celebrate the Royal Air Force’s 100th Birthday. And, like thousands of others, my colleagues and I gathered on the roof of our office, just south of London Bridge, Guys Hospital and The Shard, to watch.

The gathering of 100 aircraft took place 100 days after the exact 100th Birthday, starting near Ipswich in Suffolk and flying South-West over Colchester and Chelmsford before over-Flying the Mall and Buckingham Palace before continuing West towards Windsor Castle and Maidenhea, with the odd detour to my old stomping ground, RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire.

The 100 aircraft taking part included Puma, Chinook, Juno and Jupiter helicopters, a Dakota, Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane from WWII, huge Hercules, A400M and C-17 transporters, BAe146, Sentinel and Voyager jets, the spooky-looking early-warning E-3D Sentry, and the high-speed Hawk T1/T2, Tornado GR4 and Lightning fighter jets - and last but certainly not least, bringing up the rear in perfect formation with red, white and blue smoke billowing from their wingtips, the incomparable Red Arrows display team in their unmistakable red Hawks.

But what has this event to do with good food and fine wine, I hear you ask? Well, not a lot really; but having been brought up in East Anglia near a regional airport and numerous air bases, each trying to out-do its neighbour with a spectacular air show every summer, my love of all things avaiation stretches back to childhood. I actually don’t mind living under the Heathrow flight path. I even did my school work experience week at the birthplace of the passenger jet, Hawker-Siddley (British Aerospace) in Hatfield. Whenever I hear that distinctive "growl” of military aircraft I cannot help but look up.

So I make no excuse about a mini-blog about another of my great loves. Congratulations RAF and may you continue for another 100 years!