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RAF's Centenary Flypast (Hardback)

The Story Behind the Event that Marked 100 Years of the Royal Air Force

Aviation > Aircraft > Spitfires & Hurricanes Aviation > Royal Air Force Colour Books Photographic Books

By Wg Cdr Kevin Gatland
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 150 colour illustrations & diagrams
ISBN: 9781526788405
Published: 14th May 2021


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Author Interviews

  • Interview on the RAF 100 Flypast | Kevin Gatland (Part 1), Aircrew Interview  


  • Flying the Tornado GR4 in Combat | Kevin Gatland (Part 2),  Aircrew Interview 



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On 10 July 2018, exactly 100 years and 100 days after the formation of the world’s first independent air force, 103 aircraft of twenty-four types from twenty-five squadrons flew over London in the largest formation of military aircraft seen over the capital of the UK in nearly thirty years.

Involving over 250 aircrew and operating out of fourteen military and two civilian airfields, with nineteen back-up aircraft and a stand-by air-to-air refuelling tanker, the Royal Air Force put on a unrivalled display to mark the centenary of its creation on 1 April 1918, in the closing months of the First World War. Exemplifying that long and proud history, was the Spitfire, Hurricane, Lancaster and Dakota of the Memorial Flight, as well as the enduring Hercules, with the newly-acquired F-35B Lightning displaying the RAF’s continuing global importance.

This book reveals how the flypast was conceived and examines the detailed planning involved in the event, written by someone who would know – the project manager and coordinator. The composition and size of the flypast was truly momentous, comprising virtually every type of aircraft that the RAF operated at the time.

As Chief of Staff at the Tornado GR4 Force Headquarters operating from RAF Marham, and an experienced Tornado GR4 Navigator, Wing Commander Kevin Gatland had the task of pulling together all the necessary components, both military and civilian required to produce an unrivalled aerial display. This involved considering the feasibility of assembling so many varied types of aircraft, all with different speeds and capabilities, in addition to concentrating them into a tight schedule to produce a virtually continuous stream of aircraft over central London, with elements breaking off to pass over the northerly runway at Heathrow Airport, the RAF Memorial at Runnymede, Windsor Castle and the RAF Museum at Hendon.

Beautifully illustrated with glorious colour in-flight photographs of the magnificent aircraft of the current RAF as well as the briefing and planning session, this book demonstrates the enormous range of factors that had to be taken into consideration to produce the amazing spectacle that was witnessed by the Queen from Buckingham Palace and the thousands who gathered in The Mall – an event captured in the pages of this fascinating book.

The complexity of the event is incredible, and being responsible for the organisation of it must have been a weight on the authors shoulders. To accompany all the detail of the flypast, the organisation of the various aircraft types is all included, and accompanied by a large number of fantastic photos of the event, on the ground and in the air. The crowds filling the mall in front of Buckingham Palace are equally amazing, and know my youngest daughter was among them, having come out of her office to watch, while our son-in-law was on duty at Buckingham Palace as well. A fascinating account of a historic event and with some colour images that any aircraft enthusiast will love I am sure.

Read the full review here

Military Model Scene

Video review featured on Scale Modelling Now

Scale Modelling Now

The author's account, which is well-illustrated despite some images being somewhat washed-out, gives the story behind the event and discusses interesting aspects of the planning.

Aeroplane, September 2021

This nicely produced, 181-page hardback, is well-written. The text is supported by sundry diagrams and planning charts and an annex provides the serial numbers of all of the participating aircraft. There are more than 100 colour photographs of the actual flypast, many of them taken from a helicopter showing individual aircraft or formations against the backdrop of the Palace or of the Mall, packed with spectators. Wg Cdr Gatland’s book provides, at first-hand, an insight into the complexities that underpin the planning of such an event and as such it makes a very worthwhile addition to the annals of the RAF. Strongly recommended.

RAF Historical Society

This book is a fantastic summary of the hard work, dedication, planning, and execution for one of the most spectacular flypasts ever performed over London. It is a fitting tribute to the brave men and women of the Royal Air Force and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of the RAF and to anyone who stood on the Mall or watched online this incredible centenary flypast. It was a glorious demonstration of professional airmanship and commemorative heritage and this book captures all of the details brilliantly.

Todd Shugart, Aviation News
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About Wg Cdr Kevin Gatland

Wing Commander KEVIN GATLAND OBE, MA, joined the Royal Air Force in May 2000. After completing fast jet navigator training, he served on Nos 12(B), XV(R) and 617 Squadrons at RAF Lossiemouth and No.31 Squadron at RAF Marham. Completing a number of tours in Iraq during Operation Telic, Afghanistan in Operation Herrick and Iraq, again under Operation Shader, he also instructed new and returning Tornado aircrew and completed the Qualified Weapons Instructor Course. Promoted to Squadron Leader in 2010 he was posted to MoD Abbeywood as the Tornado Requirements Manager. After returning to frontline duties, and running the Tornado Standards Unit, he was promoted to Wing Commander in 2015 and, having completed the Advanced Command and Staff Course, he became the Tornado Force Headquarters Chief of Staff. Post the RAF 100 Flypast, his final roles were to programme manage the Tornado Force disbandment activities and coordinate the D-Day 75th anniversary flypast at Southampton, as well as the NATO 70th anniversary flypast at Fairford.

Perfect Partner

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The Royal Air Force has long recognised the value of display flying for pilot training, prestige and recruiting purposes, and the standard of its formation aerobatic teams has always stood favourable comparison with those of air forces of other nations. Aerobatics have always played a prominent part in RAF training. They are not performed merely to provide a spectacle for the public but are an essential step in the making of a pilot, giving him confidence in himself and his aircraft. Formation aerobatics give him the added factor of confidence in his leader and other members of the team. This…

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