ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
During a ceremony April 6th at Duck Lake on Robins Air Force Base a piano went up in flames.
Members of Team Robins gathered for the Royal Air Force Centennial Celebration 2018. The celebration marks the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force and was part of a series of events in the United Kingdom and United States culminating in a week of celebrations in Washington D.C. and London.
The Robins event was hosted by RAF Exchange Officers stationed on the air base and included a cricket match, open air reception and the piano burn.
“Piano burns are a tradition going back to the earliest days of the RAF which include tall stories of how piano burning became a tradition and have come to represent a homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of their nation,” said Royal Air Force Flt. Lt. Leigh Johnson, RAF Exchange Officer, 16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron.
In 1940 the RAF formed three Eagle squadrons populated with American pilots which fought alongside their British counterparts at the Battle of Britain prior to America's entry into World War Two. These squadrons exist today as F-15E Strike Eagle units and others who continue to practice the tradition of piano burning.
Johnson explains that a British exchange officer has been at Robins flying with the 16th ACCS and another has worked with the 5th Combat Communications Group for approximately 20 years. “An Exchange Officer's remit is to perpetuate and strengthen the bond of friendship and close military ties between our two great nations. An exchange officer is an ambassador for the UK and his or her Service and often works as the only Brit at a unit or base.”
Johnson added that the exchange is reciprocal in nature, “A Brit comes to America, becomes a member of the USAF squadron, is trained and then deploys with his American counterparts, at the same time a USAF officer goers to the United Kingdom and does the same in the RAF.”
For video of the Robins piano burning event click the following link: http://www.robins.af.mil/News/Video/videoid/593890/