News Photography: RAF 100 Centenary Flypast

“Not since the coronation has there been as many aircraft taking part than in the RAF 100 Centenary Flypast”

When you see a headline like that, as a photographer you’ve got to go & capture a small piece of history. The RAF 100 Centenary Flypast had been publicised in the press & online that 100 aircraft would take part. After Buckingham Palace reports said the flypast would split in 3 directions. One route would go pretty close to my house on transit over Windsor Castle… but which aircraft would take which route? Only one way to be sure, I had to be on The Mall….quite a few other people had the same idea!!!

Over 1000 Servicemen & women marched from Horse Guards Parade, down The Mall to the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. Once they were in place, security opened up the road for the public to find a place ready for the flypast. On the dot of 1:00pm the first aircraft, well helicopters actually, came into view over Admiralty Arch.

These were followed by a series of aircraft from WW2 & the Battle of Britain Flight,

Tornado GR4 Fighters- Bombers followed by Transport & Surveillance aircraft

But no Flypast would be complete without our fantastic world famous RAF Red Arrows…… Smoke ONNNN!!!

No sooner had the last of the smoke cleared so did most of the crowds. So it was chance to walk around with the trusty Nikon & see what else could catch my eye. I looked around it was now clear to see there were blue uniforms everywhere. The Mall was filled with serving members of the RAF, retired veterans & young RAF Cadets about to start their careers. All could say “The RAF 100 flypast….I was There!”

As with my wildlife photography, it’s often better to find a good spot & then wait for the images to come to you rather than chase them. People everywhere were having a great day & really got into the spirit of the celebration!!

My eye caught this RAF pin badge forgotten & left on top of a bollard. As I framed up this shot, to my right I heard police motorbikes firing up…

Well, it was too good an opportunity to miss as I was in a great spot for a different angle. So into the middle of the road I went….” Are you going to pull out in full CHiPS formation (showing my age there) or one behind the other?” I shouted across to an officer as he put his helmet on….”I’ll be happy if I stay on it with you being there ready to catch the shot!!” he replied laughing.

And then it was gone, all over. The Mall returned almost to normal, the crowds had left, the road being cleared. Ready for the trucks to arrive with the traffic lights to be refitted.

There’s always a story to be told & photo to be taken everywhere. You just have to keep your eyes open & be ready to grab the moment…. oh & try not to get run over!!!