Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 13:51 UK

Flypast marks RAF's anniversary

Red Arrows 90th anniversary formation
The Red Arrows and Typhoons flew along the River Thames

The Red Arrows have flown over central London to mark the 90th anniversary of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The aerobatics team flew in formation with four Typhoons along the River Thames, past Canary Wharf and Tate Modern, to the London Eye.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to the RAF as the sound of the jet engines overhead threatened to drown out his monthly press conference.

North London's RAF Museum is hosting a banquet for Air Force chiefs.

The RAF was formed when the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service merged on 1 April, 1918.

The flypast could be heard in 10 Downing Street, where Mr Brown broke off from his press conference to pay tribute to the RAF. He also praised the Territorial Army (TA), which marks its 100th anniversary today.

Marching display

"We congratulate both the RAF and the TA on their huge achievements for the country," the prime minister said.

Photo: Carl Murray

The Duke of Edinburgh was due to attend Tuesday's banquet at the museum near Hendon. During the event there will be a flypast of nine Eurofighters and a Spitfire as well as a marching display by the Queen's Colour Squadron and the Central Band of the RAF.

An RAF spokeswoman said "low-key" celebrations, including a sunset ceremony, would be held in held in Afghanistan and Iraq to mark the occasion.

Several books have been written to mark the anniversary and a green plaque was unveiled on Sunday at 80 Strand, once the Cecil Hotel where the RAF had its first headquarters in 1918.

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