Special Tails and Strobes! Harrier farewell (part2)

As part of the retirement “celebrations” for the Harrier two aircraft have been painted with commemorative tails. Having deployed to Ark Royal a few days before they were due back on the 24th. A trip to Cottesmore (my last) was in order.

First launch of the day.


A returnee from a land away? In any case it didnt depart from Cottesmore that morning.

A small bird problem?

Then the main event. The 4 aircraft back from Ark Royal. They appeared overhead in formation and then proceeded to beat up the airfield after the break.

3 Harriers (you can just about see the 3rd!)

The special tails, starting with the Navy (well they are the Senior Service after all) and 800NAS.

Followed by the senior squadron in the RAF 1(F)Sqn who treated us to a pirouette over the threshold of runway 22 (thanks)

A Harrier doing what only Harriers can do!

Then there was a shot halt to proceedings while one of 3 Sqn’s finest flew an approach.

A few more launches; a strobing 1Sqn T.12,

Then a 1Sqn arrival

At this point, it got very noisy as the Harrier pictured is in fact stationary!

Cottesmore is one of the old fashioned airfields. The fences are low and one can get remarkably close to the action, i’ll miss that.

At this point the wind and so the runway changed. The 04 end at Cottesmore is much harder to get shots from as the land drops away at the end of the runway. But it is still possible, but the choice of shots is limited. Add to this the fact that, while driving around the airfield, the clouds rolled in and the quality of the shots has dropped I am afraid.

The Navy departed for Yeovilton and an end of Harrier celebration. They surprisingly didnt take the specially marked aircraft but took one marked for the Battle of Britain Anniversary instead. You’ll notice yet more strobe action!

The day was rounded off by 1Sqn (spot the T.12 in the formation!)

Finally, what is quite possibly the last ever photograph I will take of a RAF or RN Harrier in flight. I stopped to pay my respects at the small Cottesmore village graveyard on my way home. As with all such places it is a haven of peace, the shot here shows the recently laid Poppy Wreaths on the cross of sacrifice with the graves of many World War 2 personnel laying beyond. Always remembered, and the Harrier s one aircraft I will never forget.

In my third and final selection of images covering the Harrier retirement, I will be delving back into my Library of images (and that of my good friend David Goodall) to give some shots of Harriers past their first public airing. But more of that anon….

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