Flypasts, also known as flyovers, are a beloved part of British ceremonial tradition, showcasing the prowess and innovation of the Royal Air Force (RAF) while commemorating significant national events. From Aldershot to Buckingham Palace, the history of flypasts is a captivating blend of tradition, precision, and spectacle. As the planes soar over cheering crowds and royal observers, they represent a bridging of the past and present, a tribute to the enduring spirit of the RAF, and a reminder of the monarchy’s longstanding support for the military. In a rapidly changing world, flypasts continue to serve as a symbol of national unity and pride.
Origins of the Flypast Tradition
Flypasts are a military tradition that can be traced back to World War I. Initially, these aerial displays were used as a form of salute to senior military and state officials. Over the years, flypasts evolved into a popular public spectacle, celebrated for their grandeur and precision.
Aldershot, as the ‘Home of the British Army,’ holds a key place in this tradition. The town has been a central military hub since the Victorian era, and the flight from Aldershot to Buckingham Palace is a fitting nod to the intertwined histories of the British Armed Forces and the monarchy.
Flypasts over Buckingham Palace
The route from Aldershot to Buckingham Palace has been the backbone of several historic flypasts. Perhaps the most recognised are the flypasts that occur annually as part of the Queen’s birthday celebrations, known as Trooping the Colour. At exactly 1 PM, the RAF soars over Buckingham Palace, presenting an impressive display of modern military aircraft. The Queen and members of the royal family watch the flypast from the palace balcony, waving to the pilots and the crowds gathered below.
One of the most significant flypasts in recent history was the RAF Centenary flypast in July 2018. Marking the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, this flypast was one of the largest and most diverse in history. Over 100 aircraft representing the RAF’s history took to the skies, with the Red Arrows, the aerobatics display team of the RAF, concluding the display with a spectacular red, white, and blue smoke trail over Buckingham Palace.
Significance of Flypasts
More than just a breathtaking spectacle, flypasts serve as a testament to the courage and skill of the RAF. Each flypast is meticulously planned and rehearsed, demonstrating the precision and discipline intrinsic to military aviation. The sight of the RAF’s modern and historical aircraft soaring over landmarks is a stirring reminder of Britain’s rich aviation history and a tribute to the servicemen and servicewomen who have served in the RAF.