Australian Aviation’s Henry Howard took these incredible photos of RAAF’s centenary flypast in Canberra on Wednesday.
The display, the most ambitious attempted in years, featured 60 warbirds and modern aircraft such as the Spitfire, Caribou, C-130J and F/A-18 Hornet.
Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld spoke about the Air Force’s evolution from basic biplanes to boasting a fleet characterised by high-tech capabilities including space and cyber.
“In our first 100 years, in conflict, peacekeeping, search and rescue, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, Air Force developed a reputation within our nation and among our global partners for courage, perseverance and overcoming adversity. We consistently deliver air power well above the weight of an air force our size,” AIRMSHL Hupfeld said.
“More than 350,000 Australians have served in Air Force since 1921 and 11,191 have died in service during that time — we will always remember their service and sacrifice.
“Today, Air Force works with Navy, Army, Defence civilians, other government departments, defence industry and our international partners. These relationships have always been important for our success and will be crucial as we face the strategic challenges of an increasingly complex and competitive environment.
“As we commence our second century, it is our duty to preserve our proud legacy and to maintain our enduring commitment to supporting Australia.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison used a social media post to highlight the sacrifices made by RAAF personnel over the force’s 100-year history.
“We honour their courage, skill, dedication and character,” PM Morrison said. “And we remember the more than 11,000 members who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and whose names are etched on the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour.”
The warbirds flypast was led by RAAF’s recently re-formed 100 Squadron, which is flying aircraft from the current heritage fleet in Temora and Point Cook.
The unit, disbanded in 1946, was formed from surviving personnel from the British RAF’s No. 100 Torpedo Bomber Squadron who had escaped from Malaya.
The first RAAF Squadron to be equipped with Australian-built Beauforts, No. 100 Squadron was deployed to Queensland in May 1942, where it conducted further torpedo bomber training and anti-submarine patrols.
Notable deployments also included flying reconnaissance and bombing missions against coastal shipping in Milne Bay, PNG, and carrying out the RAAF’s first Beaufort operation resulting in the crucial sinking of a Japanese merchant vessel.
Later in February, it was then confirmed that the former executive officer of Headquarters Air Academy had been appointed as the new commanding officer of 100 Squadron.
Wing Commander Philip Beanland said he felt “extremely privileged” to take the role for the unit that will have the motto “then, now, always” and its own unique badge.
On 31 March 100 years ago, the Australian Air Force was formed, and five months later, its Royal designation was added to create the Royal Australian Air Force.
It was only the second “Royal” air arm in the British Commonwealth, following the formation of the RAF.
To celebrate, Australian Aviation has also been opening our archive to show you our best photos of RAAF aircraft during the organisation’s 100-year history. But then we thought, what’s the best?
Our poll received more than 1,300 votes but the winner, unsurprisingly, was the F-111, which smashed its rivals with more than 40 per cent of the vote.
It features an exclusive interview with the Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld; an introduction from Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price; as well as some of the best features from Australian Aviation’s history, examining the inner workings of the RAAF.