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Crowds flock to Marham to bid farewell to Tornado



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The 9-ship flypast over RAF Marham.. (7506029)
The 9-ship flypast over RAF Marham.. (7506029)

Thousands of aviation enthusiasts have headed to West Norfolk to bid a fond farewell to one of the stalwarts of Britain’s armed forces.

The Tornado fighter jet will finally bow out from active service later this month after 40 years at the heart of RAF operations.

And, ahead of its retirement, a farewell tour of flypasts has been taking place across the country including one from RAF Marham to RAF Cranwell yesterday afternoon.

Crowds had gathered near the base from early in the morning to get the best vantage point.

Plane spotters outside the RAF Marham perimeter.. (7506041)
Plane spotters outside the RAF Marham perimeter.. (7506041)
One of the Tornado GR4's is prepared for flight at RAF Marham.. (7506023)
One of the Tornado GR4's is prepared for flight at RAF Marham.. (7506023)

At one point, police had to take to social media to plead for onlookers not to stop in unsafe areas on the nearby A1122 and use designated parking areas in stead.

Station commander, Group Captain Ian Townsend, said the public response to the tour demonstrated the esteem in which the Tornado is held.

Station Commander (C) Cab Townsend joined the team for a photograph after the 9-ship flypast at RAF Marham.. (7506037)
Station Commander (C) Cab Townsend joined the team for a photograph after the 9-ship flypast at RAF Marham.. (7506037)

He said: “With barely a fortnight before the disbandment parade for the two remaining Squadrons this was our opportunity to say thank you to all those who have supported Tornado since she entered service.”

The flight to Cranwell coincided with a graduation parade for new officers at the Lincolnshire base.

Group Captain Townsend said: “It is sobering to think that most of the officers graduating today would not have been born when Tornado first entered service in 1979.

“Sad though it is, the time is right for Tornado to retire and hand the baton of UK Combat Air capability to the Typhoon and F35B Lightning, both exceptional aircraft able to meet the challenges of future warfare.”

The Tornado will finally be retired at the end of this month and is due to be used for training over the coming weeks.



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