Piping has a firm tradition in the Royal Air Force, going back virtually to the formation of the Service and, together with a wide range of semi-official corps of drums, brass bands and military bands, provided the basis upon which such prestigious bands as the Central Band of the RAF were formed. Photographs of pipers from as early as 1922 can be seen in the Messes of several Stations today.
Today, the backbone of the RAF's five pipe bands is provided by RAF aviators, their officers, and civilian volunteers and are formed on a geographical basis from RAF Stations throughout the United Kingdom.
ROYAL AIR FORCE PIPES AND DRUMS
The RAF's five pipe bands regularly combine to represent the RAF in State ceremonial or other major public events. Indeed, exposure of RAF piping and drumming at home and abroad continues to gain an increasingly high profile and is held in high regard across the piping community. RAF Pipers and Drummers have performed at many high-profile events all around the world - the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Jools Holland Hootenany (BBC1), international Tattoos in Basel, Berlin, t' Hertogenbosch, Lommel, Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington and Ystad. The RAF 100th anniversary saw pipers and drummers marching the Standards and Personnel down the Mall (pictured above) and at Buckingham Palace as well as for His Majesty the King at Balmoral. RAF Pipes and Drums regularly play alongside the RAF Central Band as well as the King's Colour Squadron for World class events.
Until 2004, the bands had different tartans representing their individual Stations. Although King George V granted permission for the Royal Air Force to wear Grey Douglas in 1933, the bands over the years all used their respective Station tartans. For the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2004, bandsmen from the RAF pipe bands were issued with the RAF Tartan for the first time.
The employment of professional Pipe Majors in the RAF has assured the development, ability and standing of RAF piping. Led by these Pipe Majors, the bands are all well prepared and experienced to perform both as individuals and team members.
New pipers and drummers are always welcome - expert tuition is always at hand. If you think you would be interested in joining, contact your nearest band and take the first step. The opportunities available to pipers and drummers in this band are unique to the RAF voluntary pipe bands.
The bands are always happy to quote on all kinds of functions, large or small with the size of band adjusted to suit the occasion and funding available. For that really special event why not ask for a piper or two, in full highland dress.
So promote your event and delight your guests, not with any band, but with the RAF Pipes and Drums. We're a guaranteed show stopper!
The Pipes and Drums played a leading role during the 2018 RAF100 celebrations, before a band of 123 Pipers and Drummers performed at Balmoral for Her Majesty the Queen. This is the largest Pipes and Drums ever to perform on the lawn at Balmoral.
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
The band plays a lead role in Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (REMT), to celebrate the talent of military Pipers, Drummers and Musicians from the grounds of Edinburgh Castle. One billion people across the world tune in to watch.
PIPE BANDS IN THE ROYAL AIR FORCE
The Royal Air Force currently has five Scottish Pipe Bands spread around the United Kingdom. Over the years there have been many more, but as Stations such as St Athan and RAF Germany have closed the bands have gone too. The current bands are RAF Central Scotland, RAF Halton, RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Waddington. As well as doing jobs all over the UK and the rest of the world, all the bands have competed in Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Contests with great success.
RAF Halton started as a training establishment for the Royal Flying Corps in WWI. The RAF continues to use it for training today, although the tradition of marching Apprentices daily to the workshops ceased in 1996. The Pipes and Drums continue to feature around the Station, as well as on parades shows, TV, etc. They are also regular contributors to the RAF Pipes and Drums at Tattoos both at home and overseas.
In 1947, a band was formed at RAF Kinloss and around the same time a band was formed at RAF Edzell with many players coming from the pre war band at RAF Montrose and in 1957 the band from Edzell moved to Kinloss. In the mid 90’s both Kinloss and the RAF Lossiemouth band were struggling for numbers so they decided to merge. When RAF Kinloss closed in 2012 the band became the RAF Lossiemouth Pipes & Drums.
RAF Waddington Pipes and Drums was formed in January 1967 as the 1 Group (Bomber Command) Pipes and Drums: from those early days the band has gone from strength to strength and is currently one of the largest pipe bands in the armed services. Held in high regard across the piping community the Waddington Pipes and Drums are in great demand.
2622 (Highland) Squadron
2622 Highland Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment was formed in 1979 and it is quite unique in being the only Squadron within the RAF Regular or Reserves to have its own Pipes & Drums. The band itself was formed in 1999. The tartan is Grey Douglas and was originally approved by King George V in 1933 for the Pipe Bands of the Scottish Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons.
Royal Air Force Central Scotland Pipes and Drums
The Royal Air Force Central Scotland Pipes and Drums, formerly known as the RAF Leuchars Pipes and Drums prior to the station’s transition to Army, is one of the oldest Pipe Bands within the Royal Air Force and is believed to of originated from 1947 The band wear the “Royal Air Force Tartan” which was endorsed by the Airforce Board in 2003 and first worn by the RAF Pipes and Drums at the 2004 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
The pipers and drummers within the band are not regular bandsmen, but volunteers from all ranks and trades and civilian personnel from the local area. With assistance from Pipe Major Ian Hughes, the band endeavours to preserve and encourage the piping and drumming traditions of the Royal Air Force, which can be traced back to the 1920’s.