RCAF Centennial: Soaring into the Next Century
By the RCAF 2024 Centennial team
As the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) celebrates its Centennial this year, prepare for an exciting journey through a century of aviation excellence. The year will be studded with outstanding national, international, and local celebrations by Squadrons and Wings. It’s not just a nostalgic look back; it’s a leap into the future as the RCAF enters its second century of service. www.rcaf2024arc.ca
Celebrations began with the launch of the Winnipeg Jets special jersey for the 2023/2024 NHL season. Players in historic replica uniforms pay homage to the 1948 RCAF Flyers, the hockey team made up of RCAF members that won gold at the 1948 Winter Olympic Games in St Moritz, Switzerland. The Jets will wear the 1948-style jerseys for three home games including 1 April 2024, the official 100th anniversary of the RCAF.
That same day, 1 April, more than 250 locations in at least a dozen countries will light up in RCAF blue, kicking off the RCAF Centennial Illuminations. This global event invites participation from around the world, symbolizing a visual tribute to the RCAF Centennial and celebrating a century of aviation excellence. And, yes, Guinness World Records has been contacted and we are looking forward to breaking a world record with this initiative.
Fast forward to May 2024 and the Canadian Tulip Festival takes centre stage in Ottawa. Festival organizers had four specially cultivated tulips produced for the Centennial. Named Wings, Ad Astra, Rescue and Flyers, these vividly coloured flowers commemorate the RCAF’s lasting impact on Canada and are a living testament to a century of aviation excellence.
The RCAF Centennial Ball is scheduled for 1 June 2024, in Ottawa. It will sell-out and will be a historic night to remember. It’s not just a celebration; it’s a reflection on the journey from the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Navy Air Service to the creation of the RCAF in 1924 and beyond. It will be an evening when Canadian Armed Forces members, their families and community partners come together to recognize the contributions of the RCAF to Canada’s Defence Team.
RCAF Game Force flew on to the stage when it launched in August 2023 to the delight of gamers and e-sports enthusiasts. Less than two months later, the RCAF sent a team of four highly skilled gamers to Los Angeles to compete against military teams from the United States and the United Kingdom. It was the RCAF Team’s first competition – and they won! In fact, their team captain, Aviator Ryan Mezzei from 14 Wing Greenwood, was named MVP of the tournament. RCAF Game Force will expand during the Centennial year with games like Rocket League and Forza Motorsports, with the intention of this being a legacy activity for the whole Canadian Armed Forces.
In the spring of 2024, a visual treat awaits with the release of the documentary entitled Wings of Honour: A Century of the Royal Canadian Air Force, produced in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Premiering in select locations around the world, this film tells the compelling story of Air Force aviation throughout the decades.
The RCAF’s commitment to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) will take flight with STEM science fairs in the spring and summer of 2024. In partnership with Youth Science Canada, these initiatives will spark the curiosity of Canada’s youth and align with the RCAF Centennial’s focus on fostering innovation and preparing future leaders.
A literary journey awaits with the release of 100 Objects for 100 Years: A History for the Royal Canadian Air Force Centennial in the spring of 2024. This book is a treasure trove of information that provides insights into the lesser-known aspects of the RCAF’s history through artifacts from RCAF museums across Canada.
Lace up your running shoes in the spring and summer to participate in the RCAF Run. This centennial-themed run invites current and former RCAF members along with their friends and families to connect with Canadians through sport and fitness. You can find a run near you or opt to participate virtually. Participants of all abilities and fitness levels are welcome to take part and ‘Earn Your Wings.’
Sustainability takes root with the Trees for Heroes initiative, running from October 2023 to October 2024. This initiative will see trees planted in the shape of the RCAF Roundel at various locations across the country, serving as a unique and lasting way to commemorate the RCAF Centennial and symbolize its legacy in Canada.
As we embark on this remarkable journey to celebrate the RCAF Centennial, these events and initiatives weave a tapestry of history, innovation, and community spirit. This celebration is not just about the past; it’s an invitation to join hands in shaping a future where the sky’s no longer the limit. The RCAF Centennial is not just one event but a celebration of a legacy that has been soaring for the past hundred years and will continue to soar for the next hundred years.
Find out what’s happening in your area by visiting the official RCAF Centennial website at www.rcaf2024arc.ca and follow the Centennial journey on social media using the hashtag #RCAF100. Join in and celebrate with Your Air Force.