Wiltshire

RAF Lyneham's Hercules make final flypast

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Media captionA fleet of Hercules aircraft, nicknamed Fat Alberts, have left RAF Lyneham for the last time.

Four Hercules aircraft have made a low-level flight over Wiltshire to say farewell to the county.

The planes left RAF Lyneham for the last time at 1030 BST before heading to their new home at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The planes headed west, towards Hullavington and Malmesbury, then south down to Warminster before heading north over Chippenham and Shrivenham.

Lyneham has been home to the planes, nicknamed Fat Alberts, since 1967.

As the planes departed RAF Lyneham, onlooker Sheila Allen said she felt "very sad" and "emotional" to witness their final flight from the base.

"I just felt I just had to be here today to say 'goodbye'," she said.

'Sad moment'

Wiltshire Conservative MP, James Gray, also reflected on the final flight: "In my 15 or 16 years here I've never heard one complaint about noise. Never once," he said.

"We loved the RAF and we loved the people. It's a big RAF area and this is the last of our RAF bases to close. It's a desperately sad moment."

Image caption The four Hercules planes made a 110-mile flight around Wiltshire and on to RAF Brize Norton

RAF Lyneham station commander Gp Capt John Gladstone said prior to the final flypast: "It will be a very sad day for everyone at Lyneham, but it's just a new chapter in the history of the Hercules.

"The Hercules has a very important job to do in operations and our move to Brize Norton will have no impact on that whatsoever."

The Ministry of Defence made the decision to close RAF Lyneham in 2002 as part of a strategic review of military bases.

The base is due to close in 2012 and already some 1,400 military and civilian personnel have transferred to RAF Brize Norton.

It is not yet known whether the MoD will continue to use the base for a military purpose after the closure next year.

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