Search

Tornado's final scheduled flight as Marham squadrons are disbanded

PUBLISHED: 18:23 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:47 15 March 2019

RAF Marham holds its disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. A single Tornado completes its final flight. 
Pilot Squadron Leader Ian Dornan (right) and Navigator Squadron Leader Stephen Bearmore. Picture: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019

RAF Marham holds its disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. A single Tornado completes its final flight. Pilot Squadron Leader Ian Dornan (right) and Navigator Squadron Leader Stephen Bearmore. Picture: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Archant 2019

The RAF Tornado has completed its final flight in a flypast over the disbandment parade for the jet's last two squadrons.

RAF Marham holds its disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. Picture: Sonya Duncan. 
Copyright: Archant 2019RAF Marham holds its disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. Picture: Sonya Duncan. Copyright: Archant 2019

The Tornado will retire at the end of this month after almost four decades in service.

Members of the last two squadrons to operate the aircraft attended the parade in a hangar at the jet’s home base of RAF Marham in Norfolk on Thursday (March 14).

Guests then moved outside to see the single jet roar overhead in a low flypast.

Squadron leader Ian Dornan, the pilot for the Tornado’s final flight, described it as an “absolute honour and a privilege”.

A single Tornado took part in its final flight.
 Picture: Sonya Duncan. 
Copyright: Archant 2019A single Tornado took part in its final flight. Picture: Sonya Duncan. Copyright: Archant 2019

“It’s really when I think about all the aircrew that have gone before me and all the engineers that have made it possible to put the jet in the air,” he said.

“It’s sometimes sad as well as I’ve a few friends who didn’t make it back, but very humbling and very honoured to fly the last mission.”

Squadron leader Stephen Beardmore, who was in the back seat as navigator, said: “It’s been a long career for me flying Tornado and it’s kind of like a pair of old slippers.

“I think I just got used to it and it’s been very fulfilling.

Pilot Squadron Leader Ian Dornan. Picture: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Pilot Squadron Leader Ian Dornan. Picture: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

“It’s a sad day to move on but I think it’s time to move on.

“The aircraft has now come to the end of its service life and there are newer things to do and newer capabilities to service with newer aircraft.”

The head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, watched the jet taxi in for the last time and said it was a “hugely significant moment in the RAF’s history”.

He added: “It’s hugely emotional.

RAF Marham holds their disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. A single Tornado does its final flight.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019RAF Marham holds their disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. A single Tornado does its final flight. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

“The Tornado has been the greatest part of my RAF career and so if my eyes are just a little bit glassy it’s not just down to the wind that’s blowing today here at Marham.”

Station Commander Group Captain Ian “Cab” Townsend said: “I think the wave of emotion when those two engines shut down from the last sortie tells you everything you need to know.”

The two squadrons at the disbandment parade were 9 Squadron and 31 Squadron.

The world’s first operational Tornado squadron, 9 Squadron, had operated the aircraft since 1982. It will be stood up again as a Typhoon squadron at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

RAF Marham holds their disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. A single Tornado does its final flight.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019RAF Marham holds their disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. A single Tornado does its final flight. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

31 Squadron, known as the Goldstars, operated the Tornado since 1984. It is set to be stood up again to operate Protector drones.

The duties of the Tornado, which was originally used in combat during the first Gulf War, will be taken over by Typhoon jets with newly-fitted weapons systems.

RAF Marham holds their disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. A single Tornado does its final flight.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019RAF Marham holds their disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. A single Tornado does its final flight. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

RAF Marham holds their disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. A single Tornado does its final flight.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019RAF Marham holds their disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. A single Tornado does its final flight. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

RAF Marham holds its disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. Picture: Sonya Duncan
 Copyright: Archant 2019RAF Marham holds its disbandment parade for the final two Tornado squadrons. Picture: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Related articles

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Watton and Swaffham Times

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists