Tornado jets fly over namesake locomotive as part of final farewell

Three RAF Tornado jets flew over their namesake locomotive on the first of a three-day series of “finale flypasts” around the country to mark their retirement.

The aircraft flew above the famous Tornado steam locomotive near Leeming Bar, in North Yorkshire, on Tuesday afternoon.

The jets, which have been in service since 1979 and first used in combat during the first Gulf War, will leave service at the end of March.

The Tornadoes are undertaking a tour of the UK that will overfly most RAF bases and other key sites associated with the aircraft.

Station Commander Group Captain Ian “Cab” Townsend previously wrote on Twitter that the flypasts, with up to three jets, would be a “superb celebration of Tornado and those who have supported her across the country”.

He earlier said routes were chosen to commemorate places that have contributed to Tornado over the years.

After flying over their base on Tuesday, RAF Leeming posted on Twitter: “What a moment in history! Sgt Jon Ryder captured the final GR4 flypast as it passed over the iconic Peppercorn Class A1 60163 Tornado steam locomotive. A sight which will sadly never be repeated.”

Wing Commander James Heeps said: “It is a great privilege to be part of a national event that allows the public to say farewell to a brilliant aircraft that has been the cornerstone of our operations for so many years.

“It’s also a sad occasion because it will mean that from the end of next month the Tornado will never fly again.”

Eight Tornadoes, which were stationed at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus and used in the fight against Islamic State, returned home to RAF Marham, in Norfolk, earlier this month.

The role of the Tornadoes will be taken over by Typhoons, with new weapons systems.

The RAF said its new fleet of F-35 Lightning jets will form the backbone of the UK’s combat air fleet alongside the Typhoon jets in the coming years.

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