Finnish Air Force anniversary celebrates the Service's centennial history
On 6 March 2018, it will be 100 years since the founding of the Finnish Air Force. The centennial will be celebrated in a number of events taking place around Finland on the weeks beginning 26 February and 5 March.
Midnight Hawks, the official aerobatic team of the Finnish Air Force, will appear in several Air Force Centennary events on March 5 and 6.
(UPDATED March 2 2018 @ 0900 hrs: Updates on Helsinki region flight activities and schedules added for March 6)
The history of the Finnish Air Force is considered to have begun on 6 March 1918. That was the day when the troops of the White Army fighting the Finnish Civil War received the Thulin Typ D reconnaissance plane donated by the Swedish Count Eric von Rosen. Having been ferried to the city of Vaasa from Umeå, Sweden, it was entered into FINAF equipment register as the first aircraft of the newly founded Air Force.
Ever since its establishment, the Finnish Air Force has operated as a separate organisation instead of being part of the Army or Navy, which makes it one of the oldest independent aerial warfare service branches in the world.
The Air Force of today is responsible for Finland's air defence and military air operations, and it also supports other authorities and carries out crisis management tasks.
The Air Force monitors the integrity of Finland's territory on a 24/7 basis. An air picture compiled of data from surveillance radars and other sensors covers Finland's territory and adjacent areas and is the key enabler of the Air Force's mission to secure territorial integrity. This securing is carried out with the Air Force's primary equipment, the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet C/D multi-role fighters standing on quick-reaction alert at air bases across the country.
In times of crisis, the main task of the Air Force is defensive counter air operations. The Air Force protects the nation's vital assets and functions from air attacks. Additionally, it coordinates and leads the air defence of all Services. The Air Force also enables the fighting of the Army and Navy as well as its own troops by countering the air threat against them and supporting ground, maritime and air warfare with air-to-ground weapons.
The Air Force organization comprises the Air Force Command, Air Force Academy and Lapland, Karelia and Satakunta Air Commands.
The Air Force has approximately 2,000 uniformed and non-uniformed service members. The Service trains approximately 1,300 conscripts annually.
The Air Force's centennial anniversary is celebrated around Finland on the weeks beginning 26 February and 5 March with events featuring flight activities by FINAF aircraft.
The anniversary celebrations will commence on Friday 2 March at 8.15 am with Lapland Air Command's wreath-laying ceremony at the Air Defence Memorial at the Someroharju garrison in Rovaniemi, including a concurrent flypast by a Hornet multirole fighter.
The festivities will continue at the Air Force Academy in Tikkakoski on Monday 5 March. In an event beginning at 8.30 am, a wreath will be laid on the Pilot Memorial by the Commander of the Finnish Air Force, Major General Sampo Eskelinen. Hawk jet trainers of the Air Force Academy’s Fighter Squadron 41 will perform a concurrent flypast.
The Hawks will subsequently conduct a provincial flight over the area of Central Finland along the route Tikkakoski-Laukaa-Hankasalmi-Konnevesi-Äänekoski-Saarijärvi-Karstula-Keuruu-Kolho-Mänttä-Halli-Jämsä-Korpilahti-Muurame-Jyväskylä-Tikkakoski.
The wreath-laying and the provincial flight will be followed by a review of troops and pass-in review taking place on the front yard of the Air Force Academy's Reserve NCO School beginning at 12 am. Concurrently with the pass-in review, a flypast will be conducted by Hornet multirole fighters, Hawk jet trainers, Vinka basic trainers, a CASA transport and Learjet and Pilatus liaison aircraft.
After the parade, the Air Force aerobatic team, the Midnight Hawks, will greet the city of Jyväskylä by performing an aerobatic demonstration flight over Lake Jyväsjärvi off the shore of the Lutakko district at 1 pm. A more specific aerobatic demonstration flight timetable will be announced later.
The Air Force Academy will lay a wreath at the Merikotka statue on Tuesday 6 March at 12 am. The statue, was erected to commemorate the arrival of the Thulin aircraft donated by Count von Rosen. In connection with the ceremony, Hawk jet trainers of Fighter Squadron 41 will perform a concurrent flypast. On their way to the statue, the Hawks will fly over the area of the former Training Air Wing at Kauhava and over Seinäjoki city centre.
The Air Force aerobatic team, the Midnight Hawks, will greet Finland's capital region with a flight of four Hawk jet trainers on Tuesday 6 March The flight will be conducted over the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo and include passes over the Helsinki-Vantaa airport at 1:40 pm and sea off the shore of Helsinki's Kaivopuisto district at 1:50 pm.
All flight activities associated with FINAF's centennial anniversary are subject to weather and the traffic situation at Helsinki Airport. Follow the celebration of the Air Force's 100th anniversary on the Service's social media channels on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #ilmavoimat100:
The history of the Finnish Air Force is considered to have begun on 6 March 1918. That was the day when the troops of the White Army fighting the Finnish Civil War received the Thulin Typ D reconnaissance plane donated by the Swedish Count Eric von Rosen. Having been ferried to the city of Vaasa from Umeå, Sweden, it was entered into FINAF equipment register as the first aircraft of the newly founded Air Force. Photo: Finnish Air Force