Aircraft

Tucano's Last Flight 30 Years After Entering Service

The aircraft entered service as the RAF trainer plane for pilots who wished to progress onto fast jets.

Tucano aircrafts entered service 30 years ago.

They were trainer planes for pilots wanting to progress onto fast jets.

As 72 Squadron will move from North Yorkshire to Wales, the Tucano's replacement aircraft, the Texan, will enter service.

9-formation of Tucano at RAF Linton-on-Ouse 261019 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
A nine-ship formation took to the skies for the last time at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

To mark the retirement of the aircraft, the Tucanos powered down for the last time at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

The plane was first built in Belfast and conducted its maiden flight in Brazil in 1986.

It was only in 1989 that it entered service as the RAF's fast-jet trainer aircraft from which new pilots would progress onto the Hawk T2.

Tucano on the runway after last flight at RAF Linton-on-Ouse 261019 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
Tucano aircraft retired 30 years after entering service with the RAF.

On Friday, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, flew in by helicopter and the entire station turned out to watch a slice of history as the nine-ship formation took to the skies for the last time.

For almost a third of the RAF’s existence, this aircraft has given young pilots their wings.

"The Tucano represents a different generation of aircraft, where the cockpits have instruments that look like clocks," explained Air Chief Marshal Wigston.

"Things have moved on now, technology has moved on, and a modern glass cockpit with computer screens and digital instruments is how we need to train our pilots for the next generation of combat aircraft," he said.

"The Royal Air Force has completely replaced its training fleet with a brand-new generation of training aircraft... and that is going to train our next generation of pilots."

Chief of Air Staff arrives at RAF Linton-on-Ouse for Tucano's last flight 261019 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
The Chief of the Air Staff attended the event at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

The last flight of the Tucano marked the end not just of the aircraft but also of RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

The station will continue to host the Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron until the end of 2020 when they too will move to a new home.

For some, taking the aircraft on their final flight today was even more significant.

After almost 42 years of service, Squadron Leader Jack Christen retires from the RAF.

"It is a very sad day, but also a happy day, because it was a very nice flight," he said.

His lasting memories, he said will be "all the things students try to do to you", but also having "a good time" flying the Tucano aircraft.

Young pilots attend the Tucano last flight event at RAF Linton-on-Ouse 261019 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
Young and old pilots who trained on the Tucano attended the event.

"It is such a rich part of the RAF's legacy," added Air Chief Marshal Wigston.

"I am a Tornado pilot by background, and earlier this year we said goodbye to the Tornado as well," he said.

"Whilst it is a sad day, it is also a sign of progress."

72 Squadron will relocate to RAF Valley and begin training up pilots on the RAF's new fleet of Texans.