AFC Centennial Cairn Project by Steve Stewart
Just over a year from now the AFC will have achieved 60 years of existence. We should celebrate this milestone positively. This is a good opportunity to look forwards rather than just scraping about in the mud of the present and recent past. We should look forward another 40 years to the club’s first centennial.
Call me a simple-minded behaviourist engineer if you like, but I don’t think that unity can be achieved by arguing about differences. However, one thing that can help is to successfully complete a shared project, and that is what this proposal calls for.
Any of you that have read about the airshow cairn and time-capsule will be aware of some of the defining properties of that particular project – it marked an important event; it was done with an eye to the future; it used rocks flown in from around the world; and it worked.
We should celebrate the club’s 60th anniversary by building another cairn. We already have some of the required ingredients: it is an important event; it can celebrate our renewed forward-looking attitude; we have a nice piece of concrete to use as a core; we have material for another time-capsule; and we have the ability to collect rocks.
The piece of concrete is something we unearthed last year while working on the hangar compound paving project. It is one of the original foundation posts for one of the wartime buildings – perhaps the officers club, which became the Armouries and is where the club met in the early days. It happens to be exactly the right size and shape to act as a core for a stone cairn of the same design we just opened a few weeks ago. Its history will link the earliest days of the airport’s existence through the decades and into the future. Lorenzo and I have been thinking about that piece on concrete for a while, and our experience opening the airshow cairn confirmed why it had suddenly emerged from the earth after so many buried years. The very force of destiny itself was at work.
We should collect rocks ourselves – from trips we fly ourselves – from wherever we fly to. But this time we should keep a record of which rock was brought from where, by who. Every rock has its own story. I believe that there was a story for every rock in the airshow cairn, but no records have survived, and the only one we can identify is the one from the original London Bridge. This time, let’s not lose that information. In fact, let’s include it in the time capsule.
The contents of the time capsule should describe the club, where it came from, its history, and where it will go in the next forty years. It’s a story worth recording, and worth continuing into the future. Not every detail or episode is good, but overall it is a record of solid achievement, service to the community, and celebration of aviation, while also providing valuable opportunities to Members to advance their own aviation careers and interests in a community of like-minded individuals.
This is not a financially expensive project- the cost will be just the cost of some concrete and cement. What it will require from participants is rocks, with their background stories, and a commitment to be part of building something solid and positive, which will last for many years into the future.