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Final flight of the VC10

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After 47 years of RAF service, the VC10 has taken to the skies for its final air-to-air refuelling operational sortie.

A VC10 aircraft from 101 Squadron refuels a pair of Typhoon jets during its final operational sortie [Picture: Senior Aircraftwoman Helen Farrer, Crown copyright]
A VC10 aircraft from 101 Squadron refuels a pair of Typhoon jets

The VC10 aircraft accomplished its final aviation milestone on Friday, 20 September, and will retire from service on 25 September 2013.

Group Captain Steve Lushington, Station Commander at RAF Brize Norton, home to 101 Squadron and the last 2 VC10s, said:

You only have to look through the chapters of aviation history to find the VC10 has played a part somewhere along the line, be that the return of people held hostage around the world or flying the Royal Family, the Queen, heads of state and prime ministers to all sorts of wonderful locations as part of state visits.

There is a significant amount of VC10 history at RAF Brize Norton and we’re very proud of that heritage.

View from the cockpit of a VC10 aircraft
View from the cockpit of a VC10 aircraft [Picture: Senior Aircraftwoman Helen Farrer, Crown copyright]

The VC10s, ZA147 and ZA150, flew together in a sortie that involved refuelling Typhoon, Tornado GR4 and Hercules aircraft, along with refuelling one VC10 from the other.

To mark the significant role the aircraft has played in providing a service for the fast jet customer, a VC10 flew over various RAF stations, including RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Coningsby, RAF Marham and RAF Leuchars, as well as sites in Warton, Birmingham and Prestwick.

The last sortie

Final flight of the VC10

On his return from the sortie, the captain of VC10 ZA147, Squadron Leader Jess Gannon, said:

It’s probably going to take a little time to sink in actually, but you can see that we’re all a little subdued – it’s a bit of a sad day. It’s been a big part of all of our lives for quite a long time and it’s such an iconic aeroplane; so to be the guys that fly it on the last operational sortie, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Crew members inside a VC10
Crew members inside a VC10 during the aircraft's final operational sortie [Picture: Senior Aircraftwoman Helen Farrer, Crown copyright]

When asked about how much support has been received, he added:

You can see by the crowds that have been out to see us at these areas, that the support from the public for these tremendous aircraft has been absolutely phenomenal.

Following the retirement of the VC10 later this week, 101 Squadron move forward and continue their legacy flying the RAF’s newest aircraft, Voyager.

RAF VC10 seen through a cockpit window
An RAF VC10, seen during its final operational flight through a cockpit window [Picture: Senior Aircraftwoman Helen Farrer, Crown copyright]
Published 23 September 2013
Last updated 23 September 2013 + full page history
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