Golden days of RAF Finningley air shows remembered

WRAF girls Margaret Drabble (left) and Rita Smith were the first women to fly in a Vulcan Bomber on June 27, 1966 , RAF Finningley
WRAF girls Margaret Drabble (left) and Rita Smith were the first women to fly in a Vulcan Bomber on June 27, 1966 , RAF Finningley

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Royal Airforce and many events are taking place to mark the milestone.

To mark this centenary there are a number of events taking place across the country including an RAF 100 parade and flypast in London and a season of air shows including ones at RAF Cosford on June 10 and another at RAF Duxford on September 22 and 23.

317 Squadron RAF Finningley Annual Camp

317 Squadron RAF Finningley Annual Camp

One keen Bells reader, Stephen Hamilton, has sent his own tribute in celebration of the RAF centenary.

He has sent in a few images of his visit to the RAF base at Finningley now known to many as Doncaster Sheffield Robin Hood Airport. He remembers seeing late TV celebrity Keith Chegwin at the air base in 1986. He recalls him at the Perry stand.

He also remembered seeing iconic air passenger aeroplane Concord coming into land as a special treat for air flight fans. As can be seen here there were also mementoes collected from the time including stickers and picture postcards from that day.

Another iconic aircraft from the day was an Avro Vulcan Bombers fly past over Conisbrough Castle. He described it as an icon of Cold War Britain and said the Vulcan was a strategic bomber which carried Britain’s first nuclear weapon.

Former Conisbrough schoolboy, Kevin Pratt, at Finningley airbase

Former Conisbrough schoolboy, Kevin Pratt, at Finningley airbase

One person who remembers the great days out at RAF Finningley is Kevin Pratt who is now 62, but remembers an RAF Finningley day out when he was 10-years-old.

Kevin, who now lives in Tamworth, Staffordshire, said: “I remember the jets passing overhead seemingly blowing up the Daleks on Finningley’s Airfield. William Hartnell, as the first Doctor Who, came past us in a Landrover driven by RAF Officers. He smiled at us and gave a Victory wave. Victory was ours over evil once again. In an RAF game I actually got every bomb in the bucket too. They said that I should join the RAF and take up bomb aiming. Harrier jump jets were impressive.”

One of RAF Finningley's  official photo's of its Avro Vulcan Bombers fly past over Conisbrough Castle

One of RAF Finningley's official photo's of its Avro Vulcan Bombers fly past over Conisbrough Castle

Picture postcard from the RAF Finningley Airbase 1986

Picture postcard from the RAF Finningley Airbase 1986

RAF Finningley - sticker from my visit in 1986

RAF Finningley - sticker from my visit in 1986

Concord lands at RAF Finningley 1986

Concord lands at RAF Finningley 1986

Keith Chegwin at the Perry's stand 1986 Finningley

Keith Chegwin at the Perry's stand 1986 Finningley

Keith Chegwin and Stephen Hamilton at RAF Finningley Airbase 1986

Keith Chegwin and Stephen Hamilton at RAF Finningley Airbase 1986