When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
End of era as Hercules C130Ks make final RAF flight at Brize Norton
Buy this photo » The two Hercules transport planes arrive at RAF Brize Norton after the flight round former bases
AS THE sun set across Oxfordshire so did it set on the career of the RAF C130K Hercules yesterday.
At RAF Brize Norton, West Oxfordshire, 47 Squadron bid farewell to the two remaining transport planes.
They arrived at 5pm after a six-hour sortie which saw the aircraft make appearances across the UK.
And a rainbow welcomed the mighty aircraft as they came in for the final time.
The transporters yesterday visited places from past service including Thorney Island, West Sussex; Cambridge and Inverness.
They flew over their former home at RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire, where they were based until 2011 when the base closed.
Flight Lieutenant Andy Hoaen, a Hercules captain for the past 15 years, said it was a “little sad” but crew had a “fantastic” day. He said: “The weather down south was lovely but was horrible further up north and we had to work very hard in the formations.
“As we came back down to Brize Norton it was absolutely beautiful again.”
The planes were often the first into warzones like Afghanistan and the last to leave, he said.
The aircraft have also been used for humanitarian missions such as delivering food to famine-stricken countries like Ethiopia.
Just three weeks ago one was in the US for a parachuting exercise.
Wing Commander Graeme Gault said: “It’s a very sad day but it was fantastic to see the places that the aircraft has a history with.
“The aircraft have 47 years of history behind them.”
Squadron Leader Damian Catton added: “There is a real mixture of emotions.
“This is a fantastic aircraft that has done lots over the years and it’s sad to see it go.”
The planes will remain at RAF Brize Norton until Tuesday when they are retired to another base.
The Ministry of Defence has yet to take a final decision about their future.
It is the second long-serving aircraft to be retired recently after the VC10s – in service since the early 1970s – were put away last month.
The RAF will have first call on the five Voyager aircraft, converted from Airbus A300-200 airliners. They will be joined at Brize Norton next year by the first 22 Atlas turboprop transport aircraft, to replace the Hercules fleet.
Comments are closed on this article.