In 2021 the RAAF turns 100, with the centenary to be marked by a series of commemorative events to showcase Air Force heritage and the work it performs for the nation.
It will also showcase the career opportunities for the next generation of airmen and women who will operate the next generation of aircraft, like the F-35, P-8A and Growler.
Australian military aviation was born before World War I and the Army’s Australian Flying Corps operated throughout the war. Post-war, there was much debate about whether there should be a separate service or it should remain part of the Army.
Finally the government decided there should be an independent service, officially formed on March 31 1921 and given royal warrant on August 13 1921. Australia now had three services – the Army which was founded at federation in 1901 and the Navy founded in 1911.
Group Captain Mark Reynolds, director of Air Force 2021, said the RAAF was now examining just how to mark their big birthday. A survey of RAAF personnel threw up a wide range of suggestions, including flypasts and airshows.
For the RAAF, 2021 will be a big year, starting with that year’s Avalon Airshow and moving to the main event on March 31 which will mainly be marked with events at the RAAF Memorial and Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Anzac Day will be another focus, while the RAAF is hoping a member of the royal family will attend the centenary of the granting of the royal warrant on August 13.
Group Captain Reynolds said the RAAF wanted to use 2021 to set itself for the next 100 years.
“Whilst commemoration and celebration of 100 years is important, it’s really about our future. We want to use 2021 to educate our people and educate the population more about what we do,” he said at Avalon on Wednesday.
“A lot of people know we have an Air Force but do they really know what we are doing? Do they know we are out there 24/7 in the surveillance role, that we support our troops everywhere? We are in the Middle East and we’ve been there for 17 years flying and fighting continuously.”
One of the jobs now is to get industry on board. GPCAPT Reynolds said he was interested in industry engagement with the RAAF and support such as documentary evidence like historical photos.
“We need to do a gradual buildup. If we have a splash now people will forget,” he said.