400 of our finest lead RAF centenary party - with PICTURES and VIDEO
Nearly 400 of RAF Cosford's finest took centre stage as the nation celebrated the air force's 100th anniversary.
The men and women from Shropshire's RAF base were joined by colleagues from RAF Shawbury for the spectacular parade and flypast in London.
The day began with a service at Westminster Abbey, attended by the Queen, before a flypast in front of Buckingham Palace led by helicopters from Shawbury and a parade of more than 1,000 personnel in which Cosford personnel were playing a major role.
Group Captain Tone Baker, RAF Cosford’s Station Commander said that it was a huge privilege for Cosford’s people to have played such a prominent role in the celebrations.
He said: "We are thrilled to have some of our youngest men and women taking part in this historic event.
"Cosford plays a central role in the defence of the United Kingdom and the Shropshire station was at the heart of the global celebration of the Royal Air Force."
Following the Westminster Abbey Service massed bands and more than 1,000 men and women marched up The Mall to the palace, waved on and cheered by thousands of members of the public.
A spectacular flypast of around 100 aircraft from across the Royal Air Force roared over London for the celebrations, including aircraft formations that had never been seen before. It was led by three helicopters from RAF Shawbury, where the Defence Helicopter Flying School and Central Flying School is based.
The Queen led the celebrations and she watched the flypast from the balcony of the palace.
RAF Cosford provided the largest contribution of personnel from any one RAF station for the day's celebrations.
They had rehearsed for the event on the Shropshire station from the end of June before moving to RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire to join the other personnel travelling from across the UK to take part.
Overnight rehearsals took place in the capital on Sunday night and Monday morning to lessen the impact on Londoners – the bands also took part but could not play their instruments for fear of waking everyone up.
The commemorations mark the anniversary of 100 years ago, on April 1 1918, when the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service merged to create the RAF, the world's first independent air service.
More than 2,200 people packed Westminster Abbey for the service, with dignitaries including Prime Minister Theresa May, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attending.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, addressed the congregation and said the RAF has in its first 100 years been a decisive factor in serving the country, as well as being key in protecting democracy and freedom.
The flypast featured aircraft including Puma and Chinook helicopters, a Lancaster, Spitfires, Hurricanes, the A400M Atlas, Tornados, Typhoons and the F-35 stealth fighter jets.
Drawing the spectacle to a close were the Red Arrows, who in traditional aerobatic style streamed red, white and blue smoke down the length of The Mall.