Header image: 11th July 1957, RAF Biggin Hill: The formal announcement of the formation of the Historic Aircraft Flight is made by the AOC-in-C Fighter Command, Air Marshal Sir Thomas Pike KCB CBE DFC and Bar. The three pilots who flew the Flight’s first Spitfires into Biggin Hill that day stand behind him (left to right): Wing Commander Peter Thompson DFC, Group Captain James Rankin DSO and Bar DFC and Bar, and Group Captain J E ‘Johnnie’ Johnson DSO and two Bars DFC and Bar.
Many readers will be aware that this year the BBMF celebrates its 60th anniversary. The Flight’s actual ‘birthday’ is on 11th July, the date in 1957 when it was formed at RAF Biggin Hill, initially with the official title of ‘Historic Aircraft Flight’, although it was already being referred to as the Battle of Britain Flight.
Sixty years after its foundation in 1957 as a rather ‘rag-bag’ collection of obsolete aircraft, without any official funding and with an entirely volunteer workforce, the BBMF has evolved into a regular, supported RAF unit, funded by the Ministry of Defence and manned by established, full-time Service personnel to maintain its fleet of 12 historic aircraft. The BBMF has also become a household name and a national institution.
The BBMF has chosen to spend its 60th ‘birthday’ at its home at RAF Coningsby in the company of World War Two veterans, many of whom will be attending an afternoon reception and a gala dinner in the Flight’s hangar on 11th July. The Flight will be hosting and honouring these heroes who flew the types of aircraft operated by the BBMF – the Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane and Dakota – in far more dangerous circumstances during World War Two. What better way is there for the BBMF to celebrate its 60th anniversary?