2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain memorial flight, which Prince William celebrated today at RAF Coningsby with veterans of the original mission.
The Duke of Cambridge met sixty World War II RAF veterans at the based, to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF).
The BBMF was inaugurated on 11th July 1957 as a lasting commemoration to those who have died serving in the RAF, or its predecessor the Royal Flying Corps, in all conflicts from 1914 to the present day; the Duke, a former RAF pilot himself, is patron of the flight and Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Coninsgby.
A fleet of aircraft from WWII has been preserved – and are in fact in flying condition – as a living tribute to them all.
William spoke to veterans at the event, before watching an air display of a Lancaster, three Spitfires and a Hurricane fly past. They even performed some tricks for the crowds.
One veteran at the event, Rusty Waughman, 94, was a Lancaster pilot from 1943 to 1944. He spoke to William and said that he was ‘so easy to talk to, so pleasant.’
“Being here brings back so many memories,” he added.
— Radio Lincolnshire (@BBCRadioLincs) July 11, 2017
Mr Waughman said he was just 20 years old when he first piloted a Lancaster bomber, and it was a “privilege” to fly. Remarking on the 101 Squadron’s 60% fatality rate, he said: “To survive, we were very fortunate.”
The event also saw the unveiling of a paint scheme of the BBMF Lancaster PA474; each side of the plane tells a story, including a kangaroo playing the bagpipes to represent the multi-national crew who flew the plane, and the letters QG-J, the code for 19-year-old pilot Geoffrey Wellum’s squadron, the 92 Sqn Spitfire.
William then posed for a photo with the group in front of the impressive aircraft.