RAF 100 Fly-By: Per Ardua Ad Astra

Today saw the official celebration of the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force (RAF), and as there was to be a special fly-by over Buckingham Palace to mark the occasion and we live directly under the flight path I just had to try to capture the planes as they passed by overhead.

Typically we’ve had wall-to-wall blue skies for weeks now, but earlier today we had grey cloud cover for the first time in ages – although its cleared up spectacularly now the excitement is all over. The fly-by was scheduled for 1pm, so from previous experience I knew the planes would be passing over us just before the hour.

At around 12.45pm I took my camera and wandered out onto Wanstad Flats, a few minutes walk from home, to get the best view I could – and it seemed lots of other people had the same idea. As expected, we soon heard the first engines and saw a formation of helicopters approaching above the treeline. They passed directly above us, these are apparently Pumas and Chinooks followed by smaller Juno and Jupiter helicopters…

Then the older propeller planes flew over with their wonderful deep rumbly engines – a Dakota, followed by a Lancaster flanked by spitfires and Hurricanes, three Prefects and a perfect diamond formation of Tucano T1s…

These were quickly followed by a pair of Shadows, a duo of Hercules bombers, and the huge pregnant-looking belly of the Atlas…

Suddenly it all speeded up into the more modern age with a Globemaster and BAE 146 followed quick as a flash by a single Sentinal, a Voyager, a Rivet Joint and a Sentry with its tell-tale radar dome…

More formation flying followed on in the shape of T1 and T2 Hawks, Tornadoes, and the new Lightnings…

And then over the trees came a spectacular flying ‘100’ created by Typhoon jets, and last but not least an arrow-head of Red Arrows – although sadly before they had their multicoloured red, white and blue tail-smoke stuff turned on.

Still, even without the colour-show of vapour trails it was an excellent, very well choreographed display of skilled formation flying over a busy bustling city that pretty much lasted for a good 10 minutes – and I noticed with a smile that several planes even had ‘RAF 100’ painted on their tails.

And of course, as well as celebration today it is important to commemorate all those brave service personnel over the last century who have died serving their King or Queen and Country: Per ardua ad astra.

PS I keep threatening to buy myself a proper zoom lens, but so far I’ve not got around toΒ  it, so these were all taken hand-held at the zoom end of the basic 14-42 (28-84 equivalent) kit lens of my Panasonic GF6 set to ‘auto’ so I couldn’t screw up the focus or the exposure – I’ve cropped them a bit to get closer, but overall I’m quite pleased with how they’ve turned out πŸ™‚

PPS I figured I might as well use the exacting ‘geometry’ of close formation flying for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week πŸ™‚



Photo a Week Challenge: Opening


I suddenly remembered taking this image of the entrance to the Stables Arches in Camden from under another archway – I really liked the unusual framing at the time, so it seemed a perfect contender for Nancy Merrill’sΒ Photo a Week Challenge: Opening πŸ™‚