Farewell to RAF Tornado jets - you served us well

Hundreds of people turned out when Tornado jets returned to their first 'home' at RAF Coningsby in a historic farewell flypast

Enthusiasts from across the county gathered at RAF Coningsby on Tuesday, while others looked to the sky to catch a glimpse of the jets as they flew across RAF Waddington, RAF Cranwell, RAF Donna Nook and RAF Holbeach before returning to their base at RAF Mareham in Norfolk.

Lincolnshire has said farewell to the Tornado jets which are being retired.

Lincolnshire has said farewell to the Tornado jets which are being retired.

Coun Trevor Burnham of Skegness was among the crowd at RAF Coningsby to capture the moment. He said: "It was cold but worth the wait - although it was over in seconds. .

"Hundreds of people turned out to watch it. The car park was full and a farmer opened his field which was nice.

"After the flypast the RAF at Coningsby put on a bit of an air show for everyone which I thought was a lovely touch."

Louis Littlewood was also among the crowd. She remembers the Tornadoes when there were in Coningsby and said: "It was an amazing feeling, Iy meant everything to me to see them fly over one last time, I had shivers down my spine, the noise was incredible."

The Tornadoes flying over Donna Nook. Photo: Tracey Poulter

The Tornadoes flying over Donna Nook. Photo: Tracey Poulter

RAF Coningsby Media Officer Jim Robinson said 'Although Coningsby is more usually associated with the fighter variant of the Tornado, the ground attack GR4 model has been based at Coningsby in recent years with 41 (TES) Squadron. There are many people here who have flown or worked on the aircraft during their careers, so it is a sad but proud day for many"

Others posted on social media. Neil Ashurst said: "Sad to see them retire. But they did us proud."

And Dominic Hircock said: "Couldn't make Conningsby in time so went to Cranwel. Have to admit, had a tear in the eye, It's the plane I've grown up with! "

The Tornado F3 squadrons trained at RAF Coningsby from November 1984. until April 1987. Coningsby had the first (29 Sqn) Tornado air defence squadron,.

Tornadoes over Donna Nook. Photo: Tracey Poulter

Tornadoes over Donna Nook. Photo: Tracey Poulter

To accommodate these new aircraft, extensive hardened aircraft shelters and support facilities were built.

During the Gulf War, Tornados from Coningsby were based for three months at Dhahran International Airport. Tornado engines were serviced on the northern section of the former RAF Woodhall Spa, denoted as RAF Woodhall.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “It is with a heavy heart, but enormous pride, that we bid farewell to the Tornado from operations. This truly is the end of an era, having played a vital role in keeping Britain and its allies safe for four decades."

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said: “As a Tornado GR4 pilot myself, I have seen the aircraft develop over its nearly 40 years of service into an outstanding combat aircraft, flown, maintained and supported by similarly outstanding air and groundcrew. “We can all take immense pride in what the Tornado has achieved in defence of the nation over nearly four decades, and reflect back on the courage, commitment and achievements of everyone who has contributed to the success of this extraordinary aircraft.”

Tornados over Coningsby. Photo Claire Hartley

Tornados over Coningsby. Photo Claire Hartley