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Flying high with RAF science

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2018 is the RAF’s centenary year, and inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and analysts is a key part of the celebrations. So, it has been fantastic to welcome over 60,000 visitors already in the year to a special stand that highlights the importance of STEM to the RAF.

I’d like to extend an invitation to GSE members to come and visit the stand as we tour the country! You can find more details below.

RAF at 100

This all came about last year, when, with the RAF’s centenary celebrations approaching, I was given the opportunity to publicly showcase the work of the Air Warfare Centre (AWC), which, in part, provides high quality, impartial and operationally-focussed scientific, analytical and technical advice to all elements of UK air power.

The wider support of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), an MoD agency, is also important to the RAF, so together we produced a combined AWC/Dstl stand, which could travel to various events throughout the centenary year.

The RAF STEM stand in action

The stand has been at the RAF100 celebrations, situated in the STEM/Techno Zones. These zones are interactive areas that feature the technical and analytical work that the RAF and aerospace industry do day-to-day. The main backdrop to the stand showcases the role of AWC and Dstl science, technology and analysis during various stages of RAF history.

It also highlights everything from key technology breakthroughs, such as the discovery of radar, to the importance of analysis, for instance improving the effectiveness of fighter engagements during WWII, as well as the work supporting the next-generation Air Force.

The stand includes hands-on activities connected to chemical, biological and radiological research and exhibits related to air, weapon, sensing and space trials. 2018 is also the Year of Engineering – a campaign to raise awareness of engineering careers among young people – and we asked children to design the RAF’s next fighter aircraft, which resulted in some unique concepts!

The future of the RAF?

The important work we do to support UK air power is rarely publicised, so it has been an exciting experience for the analysts and scientists involved. The creation of the stand backdrop was a journey of discovery in itself; the team found it fascinating exploring the scientific records held by the Air Historical Branch and speaking to retired RAF scientists and Dstl professionals. 

STEM stand on tour

The team supported the first static aircraft display in Cardiff with over 20,000 visitors and in July took part in the celebrations at Horse Guards Parade in London, where we met over 40,000 visitors!

GSE members are warmly invited to attend the stand at future air shows and events. Come and see us at:

  • Birmingham: Victoria Square, 25 – 27 Aug
  • Glasgow: Glasgow Science Centre, 31 Aug – 2 Sep
  • Manchester: Albert Square, 14 – 16 Sep
  • IWM Duxford air show: Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 22 – 23 Sep

If you have any questions or would like to know more, please get in touch at Hope to see you there!

Featured photo by Alan Cowdale. 

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