Goodbye Tonkas

As part of my trip around Lincolnshire I spent a few hours outside Coningsby watching the Typhoons. They are pretty loud when taking off although one did set my car alarm off by doing a full-afterburner take off and heading straight up to 15,000 feet.

Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon

I also went to the BBMF hangar and looked around the various types they have there. Here’s their Lancaster:

Avro Lancaster PA474
Avro Lancaster PA474

I also saw another Lancaster at ex RAF East Kirkby.

Just Jane - Avro Lancaster
Just Jane – Avro Lancaster

However, the main reason for being a hundred and sixty miles from home was to be relatively close to RAF Marham so I could try and see some Tornados flying before they end their airborne days. I had noticed there was a NOTAM out for Marham on the Friday and so I planned to be there about half an hour before the start of whatever it was. I figured that if it wasn’t the Tornados it would be a Lightning II and that wouldn’t be such a bad thing to see. I still haven’t seen one fly and I could only just make out two in real life over the other side of the airfield.

Sortie - Rolling
Sortie – Rolling

I was lucky. There were five Tornados going up and preparing for a final display and fly past later in the month. It was really good to see them taxiing.

Tonka Formation - RAF Marham
Tonka Formation – RAF Marham

After about an hour over the North Sea doing their stuff they headed back to Marham but not before I had seen four F15s fly over and then three KC-135s in formation. They were a sight to see!

So I have two Tornado stories for you. The first was at North Weald airshow in the late 80s. My friend Nick and I had cycled from home and couldn’t afford entry so we just parked our bikes inside one of two fences in line with the end of the runway. We figured we weren’t airside and neither were we next to the road, we were in a kind of no-mans land. A Tornado lined up in front of us and then used full re-heat to take off. The noise and vibration was amazing. It was an awesome sight.

Just A Few Flights Left
Just A Few Flights Left

My next anecdote involves me being a cadet at RAF Coningsby in 1988. I was allowed to sit in the cockpit of a Tornado ADV and I played with the throttle. I was later told that doing this had dumped some fuel in the engine, but I wasn’t concerned. Later that night I was on the flight line “helping” and the aircraft I had been sitting in refused to start. It looks like I broke it [a little].

Head On - Panavia Tornado
Head On – Panavia Tornado

While at Marham the spotters got our own little airshow and it was such a delight. It was a special time to see these aircraft doing what they were meant to do, which is fly, for the last time.

I should add in that while in Cyprus on cadet camp there were Typhoons and Tornados taking off every evening to bomb ISIS in Syria and Iraq and I remember watching them leave while we were at the beach bar on Akrotiri. The after burners, the noise and the sight was spectacular. Tornados going to do the job they were designed for.