The 1st of April 1918 was a very special day for Farnborough. It was the day the orders were signed to form what is now the RAF. The papers were processed at the building which now hosts the FAST museum and became first HQ of British military aviation. It was very fitting that on the 1st of April 2018, 100 years to the day it hosted the RAF 100 parade to mark that occasion.
Farnborough as a town was built on the back of British aviation. It hosted the very first military aircraft, an airship called the ‘nulli secundus’ (second to none). The ironwork of the original hangar is still standing near Costco. Farnborough was also once home to the Royal Aircraft Factory, later renamed to the Royal Aircraft Establishment or ‘RAE’ to avoid confusion when the Royal Flying Corps was renamed the Royal Air Force! Even today the airport at Farnborough is an important economic force in the town. It hosts a large airshow every second year and helps to support a growing luxury hotel market and high value offices.
To mark the occasion, RAF Air Cadets from Farnborough, Yateley, Aldershot, Basingstoke and Odiham paraded. They were supported by the wing band from Hampshire and Isle of Wight RAF Air Cadets. The salute was taken by Air Vice Marshall Luker and was graciously hosted by staff at the FAST Museum.
The event was covered by both the local papers and the BBC. I covered the event in my voluntary role as a Sergeant with 457 (Farnborough) squadron air cadets. As a uniformed member of staff I was able to get better access than ‘the beeb’. I was able to get inside the parade and position myself and allow the action to come to me. I was also able to get permission to take a squadron picture next to the old Lightning interceptor XS420. Its owner, Richard Hall was happy for the RAF Air Cadets to pose next to her. It’s nice when my two passions come together. I’m always happy to volunteer my skills to the RAF Air Cadets because its a fantastic organisation. In fact I’m off this weekend covering a shooting camp in Bordon with them. Never a dull day if you keep yourself busy!