A Royal Air Force BAe125 aircraft has returned from operations for the final time. marking the end of an era for 32 (The Royal) Squadron which has operated the aircraft type for more than 40 years.
Piloting aircraft ZD703 on its return flight to RAF Northolt was Officer Commanding 32(TR) Squadron, Wing Commander Jon Beck who as a Squadron Leader flew the very first BAe125 out to the Gulf on Operation Telic in 2003.
He said: “I believe 32 is the only squadron in the RAF to have had an aircraft permanently deployed on operations overseas over the past 12 years. I am extremely proud of all the squadron personnel who have served with great professionalism in theatres across the world. In addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, our BAe125s have operated across East and West Africa and the whole of the Middle East.
“The aircraft has been a reliable and faithful workhorse down the years, loved by the crews who operate it and enjoyed by its passengers. The withdrawal of the aircraft does not however signify the end of 32 Squadron which will continue to operate here from Northolt in the command support air transport role using four BAe146 aircraft and an A109 helicopter.”
For Flight Lieutenant Andy Robins, a former Tornado pilot who has flown the 125 for the past six years, the event generated mixed feelings.
He said: “I’m sad to see it go but am also glad to have been part of its service history. Since 1971 many people like me have operated in it taking UK Government, military personnel and VIPs all over the world, in and out of various conflicts but also in the calmer waters of the UK and Europe.
“It has also been a privilege to see how the RAF can assist the Government at the very highest levels but also the compassionate aspects of being able to bring back servicemen and women to see their dying relatives. 32 is uniquely blessed with an incredible variety of flying and I’ve been incredibly proud to fly with a whole variety of people throughout my career and 32 Squadron exemplifies that.”
Global Aviation Resource would like to thank RAF Northolt