This year marks in the centenary of the Royal Air Force. Far from an April Fool’s Joke, the world’s greatest flying force was created on 1st April 1918 and has covered millions of air miles throughout the globe.
So, how to celebrate? We’ve seen a selection of festivities from traditional marches, fly pasts, air shows and merchandise galore throughout the country. Two current airmen who have been in the force for over a decade, Marcus and Ian, found a novel way to celebrate the first hundred years of the RAF.
Ian tells us more about the intrepid duo’s big plan and how it started.
“The Royal Air Force themselves wanted people within the force or with a connection to the Royal Air Force to come up with ideas to raise money for the RAF100Appeal. All money raised would help former servicemen, historical projects and preserving everything the RAF has done to date. I couldn’t turn an opportunity like that down.
“Me and Marcus came up with a selection of ideas. Would we trek 2000 miles across Poland? Should we complete the IronButt Challenge? We ultimately decided to visit one hundred RAF stations
From then, the challenge was set. But what motorbike would the wannabe Charley-and-Ewan ride?
“It began with a shortlist of a trio of bikes. They we didn’t know how to secure those bikes.”
Three flying visits to MCN Birmingham, London Excel and the Milton Keynes Bike Festival narrowed that choice down quickly to the ideal vehicles for the job.
“The journey wasn’t even planned, mapped and organised but the brands we’d spoken to were really excited. Within a week of MCN Birmingham, Honda had sourced two Africa Twins for us. They actually sent us on a training course to see if the bikes suited our riding style.
“They were ideal. We knew the bikes suited us as soon as we rode them for the first time, especially with the DCT Gearbox.”
The bikes were sorted and the plan was sorted. But how did Marcus and Ian know where to head?
This is where UltimateAddons came to the rescue. Our cases would ensure that each station was reached via the correct route whilst ensuring the pair could listen to their favourite music whilst flying around the country.
“From the moment I opened the box, I knew that the tough case and mounts were going to be sturdy and protect our phones from the moment we left RAF Northolt.
“The ability to be able to charge your phone whilst it is in a waterproof case is superb.
“Plus you can still use the thumbprint recognition without having to take the phone out of the case. Brilliant!”
With the UltimateAddons cases attached to the bike, Ian and Marcus had an unexpectedly smooth trip across the country.
“Plus with the sat-nav included on our mobiles, we never got lost. The only issue we had was with ourselves, with such long days and moving from place to place, we were getting tired around the middle of the afternoon.
“It was just a case of grabbing a coffee and a quick snack and powering through to our rest stop!”
However, the journey was mainly all smiles, laughs and the instant creation of memories!
Marcus tells his story about visiting a Turnberry Golf Club, owned by the President of America: “Imagine trying to get motorbikes into the middle of a golf course to take photos next to War Memorial there. Being sneaky and quiet with a Honda motorcycle is not easy!
“We decided to take a short cut up a sandy walkway with bushes either side, shielding us from the golfers. Water flow had made it into natural steps. Before I could even think about the best plan of action, Ian was already half way up the hill.
“With road tyres, that didn’t go well. He ended up in a bush with his bike because of the lack of traction. We tried and tried to get back up the hill but couldn’t. Ian turned round and decided to head back down, careering straight through another bush. Heaps of golfers must have seen us but pretended they didn’t.
“It really was a right laugh!”
There were heaps of stand out moments for the pair away from the golf course – hammering down the runway at Leeds East Airport and riding in to a huge welcome at Davidstow Moor Museum rank highly on the list for Ian, alongside an unlikely choice for his favourite RAF base.
“RAF Spadeadam has to be my absolute favourite. Not only is it the only Electronic Warfare Tactics facility in Europe, it is the largest base in terms of land but the smallest in terms of personnel.”
So, ultimately, despite covering thousands of miles, seeing hundreds of planes and riding for hours, how much did the RAF100 Stations team raise?
“At my last check, it was around £1,150! We’re really proud of what we’ve done to support a charity close to all our hearts.”
So what is next for the intrepid pair?
“I have just started a new blog page called ‘Budget Basecamp’. I’m encouraging others to head out on an adventures that can fit around everyday life of balancing kids, work, budget and kit.
“It’ll combine bikes with extreme sports. I’m encouraging people to put down their phones and become Bear Grylls-on-a-budget. Our adventures will continue to be blogged.
To answer the question, Ian’s next big adventure will be a series of small adventures!
To find out more about RAF100Stations, visit twitter.com/RAF100Stations or donate at their JustGiving page at www.JustGiving.com/RAF100Stations
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