2018 marks the centenary of the Royal Air Force, the ‘100 year experiment’ as once termed by Viscount Hugh Trenchard – the ‘Father of the modern Air Force’.
However, far from being the end of the experiment, the RAF remains the go-to Force by the current elected government, the Vanguard Force and the envy of the other Services. To celebrate this, the RAF has planned a comprehensive schedule of events to mark this occasion; the aim of the year is to ‘Commemorate, Celebrate and Inspire’. RAF Benson will also be joining in with these celebrations through a local programme – before you all sigh in exasperation, the Stn Cdr is very aware of the Op and Ex programme for the year and has decreed that whilst the event will meet the overall intent of the year (Commemorate, Celebrate and Inspire) it must do so without overburdening the unit. As such, the RAF 100 team have worked hard to develop a programme of events that meets both intentions!
There will be five key events that will mark Benson’s celebrations, spanning April to September, and these are 100 Faces (which you can see now on Social Media), a School Engagement Programme, Families Day, Youth Muster and a CO’s Cup RAF 100 Themed Sports Day. Planning for each of these events is underway and at differing stages of completion.
The 100 Faces is progressing towards the release of the 100th Face on 1 April to coincide with the official creation date of the RAF, these pictures are being displayed on a number of Social Media outlets and all personnel are encouraged to ‘like’ and ‘share’ the posts in order to maximise the reach and promote what ‘Team Benson’ is all about!
The School Engagement Programme is broken into two key categories; STEM and Creative Engagement. The STEM aspects will include a Girl Guide Camp in May as well as the Bloodhound Race For The Line Competition during March. The School Engagement Project will involve visits to several schools to increase awareness of the RAF and to set a poem competition for Primary School Children and a Paint-a-Tile Competition for Secondary School Art Students. The winners of these 2 projects will win a visit to RAF Benson for the Day.
The Youth Muster also promises to be an epic event for RAF Benson. In the past we have hosted Cadet Musters with 2017 seeing approximately 800 Air Cadets on unit. For RAF 100, we are looking to open RAF Benson to a number of Youth Organisations and offer 100 places to each one thus expanding the reach of this event and seeking to inform a wide expanse of society about what the RAF does and, more specifically, what Benson does.
In addition to these main events there will also be an RAF 100 inspired Cadet Easter Camp, a number of RAF 100 inspired sports events, a CAMO day with the local schools and (hopefully) a Puma Gate Guard with memorial established just inside the main gate.
2018 promises to be an eventful year and one that we can all (hopefully) look back on with pride whilst being involved with inspiring the next generation of Air Force joiners. From the beginnings of RAF Benson as a Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, to its role as a Transport Unit alongside King’s Flight, Benson has latterly become home to the Puma Force and SH OCU – remaining as relevant now, as it ever has through its history. This is definitely a unit worth celebrating – we look forward to your involvement, support and enjoyment over the next year!