Air and Space Museum celebrates British Royal Air Force centennial

CHANTILLY, Va. — The “Great British Fly-In” was held on the tarmac of the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport to celebrate the 100th birthday of the British Royal Air Force.

Historic aircraft, which the RAF used during World War II, such as the Avro Lancaster, landed outside of Udvar-Hazy Center for the one day event.

Glyn Gogherty, with the Royal Air Force handed out British flags to people at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport to celebrate the RAF's 100th birthday. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
Glyn Gogherty, with the Royal Air Force handed out British flags to people at the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport to celebrate the RAF’s 100th birthday. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
Some of the planes on display included the famous Avro Lancaster, a heavy bomber which played a key role in the bombing of Germany during World War II. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
Some of the planes on display included the famous Avro Lancaster, a heavy bomber which played a key role in the bombing of Germany during World War II. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The Lancaster on display is one of only two Lancasters still left that are considered airworthy. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The Lancaster on display is one of only two Lancasters still left that are considered airworthy. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The Lancaster carried some of the largest bombs used by the RAF during World War II. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The Lancaster carried some of the largest bombs used by the RAF during World War II. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
People look up into the bombing bay of the Lancaster, the plane could carry a 12,000 pound "blockbuster" bomb during the war. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
People look up into the bombing bay of the Lancaster. The plane could carry a 12,000 pound “blockbuster” bomb during the war. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The last Lancasters were retired by the Royal Canadian Airforce in 1963. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The last Lancasters were retired by the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1963. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The Great British Fly-In also featured the American-made B-25 Mitchell, which were flown by the RAF during the War. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The Great British Fly-In also featured the American-made B-25 Mitchell, a medium bomber that was flown by the RAF during the War. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The B-25 was named "Grumpy," planes like this were builty in the U.S. but used by the RAF during World War II. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The B-25 was named “Grumpy.” Planes like this were built in the U.S. but used by the RAF during World War II. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
A look at the nose of the B-25 Mitchell. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
A look at the nose of the B-25 Mitchell. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
A look inside the cockpit of the B-25 Mitchell. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
A look inside the cockpit of the B-25 Mitchell. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
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Glyn Gogherty, with the Royal Air Force handed out British flags to people at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport to celebrate the RAF's 100th birthday. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
Some of the planes on display included the famous Avro Lancaster, a heavy bomber which played a key role in the bombing of Germany during World War II. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The Lancaster on display is one of only two Lancasters still left that are considered airworthy. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The Lancaster carried some of the largest bombs used by the RAF during World War II. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
People look up into the bombing bay of the Lancaster, the plane could carry a 12,000 pound "blockbuster" bomb during the war. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The last Lancasters were retired by the Royal Canadian Airforce in 1963. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The Great British Fly-In also featured the American-made B-25 Mitchell, which were flown by the RAF during the War. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The B-25 was named "Grumpy," planes like this were builty in the U.S. but used by the RAF during World War II. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
A look at the nose of the B-25 Mitchell. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
A look inside the cockpit of the B-25 Mitchell. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Guests had the chance to learn about the Royal Air Force up close and personal without having to leave Virginia.

“I did a full a career with the Royal Air Force, ” said Reginald Blake, who joined the RAF in 1962 when he was 16-years-old and served for 22 years. “It’s the 100th anniversary, so hence why I’m here.”

Blake was part of the large crowd on the tarmac checking out the aircraft on display, hoping to see the Lancaster and the Spitfire.

The Lancaster played a massive part in the bombing campaign of Germany during World War II and the Spitfire played a major role in winning the Battle of Britain. The Lancaster on display was one of only two Lancasters in existence that are still airworthy.

Jane Christie was also hoping to see a Spitfire. But neither of the two Spitfires that were expected at the event was able to make it. The historical role of the planes was not lost on Christie.

“It helped turn the tide of the war, the Lancasters and the Spitfires,” Christie said.

She said the planes mean a lot to people in Britain, where she is from.

“I’ve been in Britain when we’ve had flyovers of Spitfires and you look around and see the old people are in tears.”

Stephen Richards, a captain with Royal Air Force said the RAF is the oldest independent air force in the world.

“We led the way,” Richards said. “We showed our American friends how to do it and then they took over and now they are the best air force in the world.”

Richards said he is extremely proud of the air force and what it had achieved.

“We’ve kept the peace,” Richards said. “We fought the wars we needed to and we protected democracy and freedom for the entire 100 years.”


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