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RAF's Centenary Flypast

...the story behind the event, from Air World, Pen & Sword

Title: RAF's Centenary Flypast
Author: Wing Commander Kevin Gatland
Publisher: Air World
ISBN: 978-1-52678-840-5

It's hard to think that the 100th Anniversary flypast for the RAF was now 4 years ago, in July 2018. This new book is written by the man who had the task of being Project Manager for the event, and what an event it was. A 181-page hardback packed with background along with some stunning photography.
In November 2016 the author was asked if he would like to take on the role of planning and coordinating the 100th anniversary flypast, due to take place in July 2018, over Buckingham Palace. As he explains, a huge privilege but very high profile and not something you want to muck up. In the book he takes us through all the planning and challenges that faced him, all the way through to the highly successful flypast itself. Starting with an aim of setting the sequence of 100 aircraft, from eldest to newest, it takes us through all the many challenges that such an operation entails. It takes us through from Conception, Making it a Reality, Twelve Months & Counting and Contingency planning for the What If? scenarios. The sheer complexity of such an event is made very evident. The different speeds of aircraft such as the leading Dakota, then the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight next which included rules of single engine aircraft such as the Spitfire and Hurricane to be allowed to fly over Central London. The aircraft needed to be chosen and planned into the flypast as a whole, and how many of each type would be needed. All this had to be done while maintaining all operational commitments. Aircraft had to be moved to airfields close enough to London, along with maintenance teams and equipment. There had to be exact timings, holding areas, diversion airfields and it all had to be integrated with civilian air traffic control over London. If all that wasn't enough, what would they do about the weather?
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.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.


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