An historic first was witnessed at RAF College Cranwell as the RAF marked a conclusion to the celebrations of its 100-year anniversary.
Non-commissioned Airmen graduated in a passing out parade alongside officers yesterday (Thursday) at the end of their training in front of friends, family and VIPs including the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier.
To combine the graduation of 91 recruits, 106 officer cadets and 10 Commissioned Warrant Officers from RAF Cranwell and RAF Halton has never been seen here before and they were treated to a flypast by a Battle of Britain Flight Spitfire and a pair of the latest fighter jets, the F35 Lightning, as they begin service the second century of the RAF’s existence.
Work is ongoing to make RAF College Cranwell the single point of entry for the initial training of airmen and officers.
The parade was led by Grp Capt Paul McClurg, who is in charge of training at Cranwell and as well as a march past and music from the College Band, there was an address by the Air Chief Marshal noting the occasion’s significance in the history of the service.
He said: “From its inception, the RAF was conceived as being different, with a focus not on background but only on merit and potential, wherever it might lie.
“Today’s event reaches back to these founding principles and looks forward to our second century, as we strive to constantly innovate, challenge perceptions and improve even further our already world-class training.”
When interviewed he insisted that the new technology innovations for unmanned drones would not render such training obsolete, as pilots were only a fraction of the Air Force’s output with many opther roles involved, as well as the people trained to monitor these unmanned aircraft.
He also sought to reassure that work was being done to soften the impact of the closure of RAF Scampton, announced earlier this year, but insisted they were still reviewing where would be the best new home for the Red Arrows and would not be drawn whether that would remain within Lincolnshire.