ROYAL Air Force mountaineers, including a Bangor man, climbed Snowdon this week as part of the RAF’s 100th birthday celebrations.
As the ten climbers walked to the summit, fellow RAF mountaineers from the RAF Mountaineering Association (RAFMA) were doing the same at Scafell Pike in the English Lake District and Ben Nevis in Scotland in a Three Peaks challenge.
Taking part was George Allbut from Bangor who is a Civilian Instructor with the RAF Air Cadets. The 23-year-old said:
“It was a brilliant day. To climb the highest summit in Wales on a Bank Holiday with stunning weather meant there were lots of people on the mountain. And they wanted to know what we were doing, so we could tell them all about RAF100.
“I was very proud to carry the baton and to be representing the RAF Air Cadets as part of the RAF Family and to show people the things that you can do in the Air Cadets and the RAF as a whole.
“Where else could you get opportunities to do something like this?”
The baton, which was designed and built at MoD St Athan in South Wales has been taken around iconic UK sites and important places in the RAF’s history.
The team also took commemorative poppies in remembrance of RAF personnel who have served over the last century.
Leading the team carrying the baton up the mountain was Flying Officer Lewis Mansell. An Air Traffic Controller he is also a member of the RAFMA. He said:
“It was a real honour to take the baton up Snowdon. As a mountaineer and an officer in the RAF I felt very proud to lead our team to the summit.
“It was great that so many people were asking about the baton and what it meant. We were able to let them know about the RAF’s 100th birthday.”
In North Wales the baton is also calling at RAF Mona on Anglesey and MoD Sealand in Flintshire.
The Three Peaks challenge coincides with a major year of commemoration for RAF mountaineering as RAFMA celebrates its 70th anniversary and the RAF Mountain Rescue Service turns 75.
In September RAFMA will mount Exercise Himalayan Venture 18, a major expedition to the Nepalese Himalayas, to mark the anniversaries. Both George and Lewis will be taking part in the Exercise.
Group Captain Emily Flynn, the Chairman of RAFMA, led a team to the summit of Scafell Pike. She said:
“This was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the physical courage and endurance of RAF mountaineers, and to participate in the RAF100 Baton Relay. It was also a great way for us to bring together the RAF Mountaineering community as we celebrate the RAF100, RAFMA 70 and RAF Mountain Rescue 75 anniversaries, commemorate previous mountaineering exploits and inspire the next generation of RAF mountaineers.
“Together with our Himalayan Venture expedition in September, today’s Three Peaks event is a great demonstration of the kind of adventure on offer in the RAF and the RAF Air Cadets. I hope it encourages more people to get into Britain’s incredible mountains, and to follow the Himalayan Venture journey on social media over the next few months.”
Led by RAFMA, Himalayan Venture 18 will see five teams of RAF mountaineers mount an expedition to the Rolwaling and Khumbu regions of the Nepalese Himalayas and bring together RAFMA and RAF Mountain Rescue personnel, regular and reserve RAF personnel, University Air Squadron cadets and RAF Air Cadets. Expedition members – ranging from experienced mountaineers to novices – will experience tough and challenging conditions as they aim to cross the Tesi Lapcha Pass at 5,775m (18,881ft) above sea level and attempt a first British ascent of a remote peak. The expedition is being covered on social media via Facebook (www.facebook.com/raf100hv18), Instagram (instagram.com/RAF100_Himalayan_Venture_18) and Twitter (twitter.com/raf100hv18).
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, the Chief of the Air Staff, said:
“Our 100th anniversary celebrations give us a unique platform from which to showcase the character of the RAF and the opportunities we offer. We want people across the UK to be inspired to find out more about why working in the RAF is so extraordinary and to realise that the world-class training and opportunities that we offer make it an outstanding place to learn, develop and progress. We want young people to be ambitious and realise their potential, so that we can continue to be a dynamic force for good across the nation and can continue to protect the nation, as we have done so successfully throughout our first one hundred years.”