MEMORIES were stirred as enthusiasts bade farewell to a military 'workhorse'.
A farewell flypast was organised by the Royal Navy to mark the official decommissioning of the Lynx helicopter which goes out of service on March 31 after 41 years of operation.
It is being replaced by the new AW159 Wildcat helicopter.
Yesterday's flypast involving four iconic Mk 8 Lynx helicopters from RNAS Yeovilton took in military sites in southern England associated with the aircraft.
This included the former naval air base, HMS Osprey, on Portland, where a crowd gathered to witness the historic occasion.
The helicopters, accompanied by a Merlin aircraft with a photographic team on board, went over later than scheduled after a delayed take-off from Yeovilton.
They performed two flypasts over what is now Osprey Quay.
The Lynx was based at Portland for decades, serving with 702, 815 and 829 Naval Air Squadrons, before moving to Yeovilton.
Among those watching the flypast was Paul Holmes, 42, from Weymouth, who served as a Royal Navy engineer for 25 years at Portland and Yeovilton, and knows the Lynx inside and out.
He served with 702 and 815 squadrons with Mk 3 and Mk 8 Lynx helicopters, on the flight attached to HMS Nottingham (Mk3 Lynx), where he was also a winchman, and with 847 squadron, part of the Commando Helicopter Force with Mk 7 and 9 Alpha Lynx. He has been all over the world with the Lynx including tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia.
After watching the flypast, Paul said: "It was emotional because working with the Lynx over 25 years has taken me all around the world, and because of it I've met and have so many lifelong friends. It brought back great memories of working at Portland."
Paul described the Lynx as a 'workhorse' for the Fleet Air Arm, adding: "It's a great piece of kit. It's very versatile, very nimble, very quick.
"However it's probably run its course. They're upgrading to the Wildcat which is an all-round better aircraft."
*Visitors to Yeovilton’s Fleet Air Arm Museum will get a ringside view of the historic decommissioning and final flight of the Lynx helicopter’s service from the Royal Navy on Thursday, March 23.
A six-minute long flying display by 815 Naval Air Squadron of RNAS Yeovilton can be seen from the special viewing area at the rear of the museum. The display will be free to view for all museum ticket holders on the day.
The Farewell Lynx event, running concurrently with the formal military decommissioning ceremony, provides the perfect opportunity for the ex-Lynx community to meet up with old flight members and shipmates, or for members of the public to simply browse the Lynx exhibitions, watch her final airborne display, and become part of this aircraft’s great history.
Museum staff will be on-hand to discuss the history in greater depth, and a Book of Commemoration will be donated by 815 Naval Air Squadron for comments, memories and stories. There will also be an opportunity to purchase a limited stock of Lynx memorabilia including pictures and prints to support the Squadron’s charity funds.
The airborne display will commence at 11.45am and last for approximately six minutes. Entry to the external viewing area is free with a valid museum ticket.
Tickets available from www.fleetairarm.com