HUNDREDS of air cadets from across the North-East paraded against the backdrop of Durham Cathedral to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The 350 young cadets stood shoulder to shoulder with serving RAF personnel, reservists, Air Training Corps’ (ATC) staff and veterans, as they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the formation of the world’s first independent air force on Saturday.

Drawn from the Durham/Northumberland Wing of the ATC, the cadets were also joined by dignitaries.

Among them were Lord Lieutenants of Durham and Tyne and Wear and Air Vice-Marshal Mike Wigston, assistant chief of the air staff, whose arrival in Durham aboard a new Northern Rail train from Newcastle he had earlier named Spirit of the Royal Air Force, coincided with a commemorative flypast by a Spitfire. Wing Commander Dave Harris, officer commanding Durham/Northumberland Wing, said: “Young people often get a bad press, but our cadets show a very different and positive side to the youth of today.

“They are a credit to the ATC and the RAF, whose values, uniform, and commitment we share. It has been wonderful to be able to bring our air cadets together with serving personnel and veterans for what has been a once in a lifetime experience, and to see the pride on the faces of these young people.”

Spectators on Palace Green watched the 500-strong RAF100 parade, which was led by the Durham/Northumberland Wing Band, and included a service of thanksgiving in Durham Cathedral.

During the service the No. 607 (County of Durham) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, which was reformed in 2015 – 60 years after being disbanded – was given honorary freedom of entry to the city of Durham.

The parade culminated in an inspection, salute and march past.

The ATC was established on February 5, 1941, by Royal Warrant to train young RAF pilots for the Second World War.