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Final flypast: RAF pulls out of Northern Ireland

Nine Puma helicopters disappear into the skies as the last RAF squadron based in Northern Ireland flies out of Aldergrove for the final time.

People watched as the RAF’s 230 ‘Tiger’ Squadron took off in a helicopter diamond formation en route to their new base at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.

They were soon little more than dots in the sky as they quickly headed away.

The flight marked the end of the RAF's 91-year history of flying from Aldergrove, and was the first time in six years that all the squadron personnel have been together.

Onlookers saw the distinctive formation of Puma helicopters fly from Aldergrove across parts of counties Antrim and Down before heading over the Irish Sea.

Wing Commander Rich Maddison said the flight marked the end of an era for the RAF in Northern Ireland.

“The people of Northern Ireland have been very good to the RAF and sadly this marks the end of an important chapter in the RAF’s history,” he said.

“This squadron could not have achieved all it has on operations over the past six years without the essential training we have been able to conduct in the province and we shall certainly miss being here.”

In September the RAF flag was lowered at Aldergrove and replaced by that of the Joint Helicopter Force.

The squadron's command has also passed to the tri-service Joint Helicopter Force.

However aircraft from all three services will continue to use facilities while some RAF personnel will remain based at Aldergrove.

Belfast Telegraph

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