Community leaders, councillors, educators and business people from across the county were among the honoured guests of the Commandant of RAF College Cranwell at the annual reception to celebrate the Queen’s birthday.
Around 100 visitors were welcomed by officers at College Hall officer’s mess yesterday evening (Wednesday) for drinks and canapes before listening to an address by Commandant Air Commodore Peter Squires.
In his speech he reflected upon the past year of commemorations and celebrations of the centenary of the RAF and how the base and its personnel took part.
The college provided additional manpower for RAF100 events across the country, including the parade and flypast over Buckingham Palace, for which it doubled up as the real thing for a full dress rehearsal a few days before.
At the college, the National Youth and STEM teams engaged two million school children through a series of residential courses, activity days, roadshows and competitions, including a successful art contest by local students.
The college welcomed the centenary baton and witnessed the first joint graduation of officer and airmen recruit cadets, signalling the single gateway for training in the RAF in which RAF Cranwell will be central.
The commandant referred to the recent opening of the High-G centrifuge facility on site for the newly arriving Centre of Excellence for Aviation Medicine, while new aircraft (the Grob Prefect and Embraer Phenom) and a refreshed training system grace local skies.
He also mentioned how a modern, digital officer training system was entering final phase of design to be introduced at the college to equip it for the future. Technology has enabled students to experience ‘virtual’ take offs and landings from the college airfield prior to flying a real aircraft.
In his report Air Cdre Squires says from April to October, the College was chosen as a location for the forthcoming TV programme about the air force’s latest addition to its arsenal - the F35 Lightning fighter aircraft.
He says: “Officer cadets were filmed at significant intervals throughout their six-month course to represent the RAF Gateway for future F35 Lightning pilots. The conclusion of this filming at the College was in October at the Joint Graduation.
The Commandant says: “The Collefe remains a pivotal station for the RAF; one that not only continues to inspire future generations, but attracts positive local, national and international attention.
The address was followed by a performance by the Band of the RAF College, outside on the parade ground, before a sunset ceremony and lowering of the flag as a new Phenom carried out a flypast to guests’ delight.