Trooping the Colour: the 70 aircraft set to join Charles III’s birthday flypast

Red Arrows flypast display
ShaunWilkinson / Shutterstock

In the United Kingdom (UK) on Saturday, May 6, 2023, Charles III was crowned King in a coronation watched by millions around the world.  

To celebrate this monumental moment, a huge spectacle involving 68 aircraft was planned to  flypast the newly crowned King while he stood on the balcony with his family at Buckingham Palace in London.  

Unfortunately, the British weather lived up to its reputation and heavy rain meant the flypast was reduced to just a few helicopters and the legendary Red Arrows squadron. 

However, the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force were determined to make it up to the new King. 

On Saturday, June 17, 2023, King Charles III will celebrate his official birthday (not his actual birthday) by gathering his family and thousands of well-wishers for the Trooping the Colour parade.  

Trooping the Colour is a tradition that dates back to the 17th century, with this year’s event involving over 1400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians. 

While a small flypast normally would be part of the tradition this year’s will be huge in comparison so the pilots and crews will finally be able to pay tribute to the King. 

King Charles III coronation
Lorna Roberts /

68 aircraft were planned to fly past Buckingham Palace in May 2023, but for the King’s official birthday this year a total of 70 will be involved.  

The aircraft will take off from 15 different locations across the UK before joining up across the south-east of England and flying across the capital. 

The event will feature a mix of aircraft ranging from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight dating back to the 1940s and the C-130 Hercules on its final ceremonial flight before retiring from service, to multiple Typhoon fighter jet aircraft and the Envoy IV CC1, making its flypast debut. 

“We are very proud to be able to showcase our capabilities to our Commander-in-Chief, on this historic occasion for His Majesty the King. We have planned a fitting and appropriate tribute for our monarch, that should be a true spectacle for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth,” Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton said.  

When will the flypast start?

The first aircraft will reach Buckingham Palace at 1pm UK time on Saturday, June 17, 2024, and the flypast will last for approximately six minutes. 

What route will the aircraft fly? 

C130 Hercules
Ryan Fletcher /

The aircraft will take off from Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force air stations around the UK, joining holding patterns around the south-east of England before coming together in formation for the flypast. The aircraft will fly directly down the length of The Mall over Buckingham Palace. 

For security reasons, the exact route the aircraft will take is not revealed, but if anyone in the UK wanted to catch a glimpse of the planes and helicopters as they set off from their bases, these are the areas they’d be most likely to see them: 

Area A: North Sea and Norfolk Coast 

Area B: Thetford, Norfolk and Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk 

Area C: Ipswich, Suffolk 

Area D: Colchester and Chelmsford, Essex 

Area E: London 

Area F: Croydon, London and Surrey 

Area G: Reading, Berkshire, Swindon, Wiltshire and Oxford, Oxfordshire 

Area H: Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire 

Area I: Marlborough, Tidworth, Wiltshire 

Which aircraft will be in the Flypast? 

Shutterstock / Doubleclix

Wave One 

3x Juno HT1 helicopters 

Wave Two 

1x Wildcat Mark 2 helicopter 

2x Merlin Mark 2 helicopters 

Wave Three

1x Wildcat Mark 1 helicopter 

4x Apache helicopters 

Wave Four 

1x Wildcat Mark 1 helicopter 

2x Merlin Mark 4 helicopters 

Wave Five 

3x Chinook helicopters 

1x Puma HC2 helicopter 

Wave Six 

 1x Lancaster from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight 

1x Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight 

2x Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight 

Wave Seven 

 1x Phenom T1 

4x Texan T1 

Wave Eight 

 3x C-130J Hercules 

Wave Nine 

 1x C-17 Globemaster 

Wave Ten 

 1x Voyager 

1x A400M Atlas 

Wave Eleven

 1x Poseidon MRA1 

2x Typhoon FGR4 

Wave Twelve

 6x F-35B Lightning 

Wave Thirteen

 18x Typhoon FGR4 

Wave Fourteen

 1x Envoy IV CC1 

9x Hawk – The Royal Air Force Aerobatics Team (The Red Arrows) 

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