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Royal Air Force marks 100th in the birthplace of aviation

Members of the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Air Force marked the 100th anniversary of the British military branch at the Engineer’s Club of Dayton. CONTRIBUTED
Members of the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Air Force marked the 100th anniversary of the British military branch at the Engineer’s Club of Dayton. CONTRIBUTED

The Royal Air Force will mark its 100th anniversary in London, Glasgow, Manchester and … Dayton.

A local contingent of three Royal Air Force officers, along with a British Army warrant officer and government employee assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, joined with their U.S. Air Force counterparts to celebrate the service’s centennial at the Engineer’s Club of Dayton.

“It was important because to us we are the oldest Air Force and (we had) this unique opportunity to celebrate at the birthplace of flight,” said Group Capt. Andrew Lloyd, a RAF exchange officer at the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson.

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April 1 is the official date the military branch became the world’s first independent Air Force, separate from the British Army and Royal Navy. At the time, the newly minted service was the most powerful in the world, with 290,000 personnel and almost 23,000 aircraft. according to the RAF.

Among the 110 people gathered in Dayton on March 24 were dozens of Air Force and defense industry representatives, Lloyd said. The milestones recounted included the 70,000 Royal Air Force airmen who died during World War II, he said.

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In its biggest celebration on a calendar of events, Britain will mark the 100th anniversary of the RAF in a July 10 event with a centenary service at Westminster Abbey, a parade, and a fly over of Buckingham Palace, the service branch said.

Dayton’s Orville and Wilbur Wright invented the airplane. Orville Wright was a founding member of the Engineer’s Club.

The U.S. Air Force — founded Sept. 18, 1947 — celebrated its 70th anniversary last year. President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, which created the U.S. Air Force as a separate service, aboard the VC-54C Skymaster, nicknamed the “Sacred Cow.”

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The plane is part of the presidential aircraft collection at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson.