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Navy waves goodbye to Sea Harriers

Falklands legend flies into history

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The Royal Navy yesterday waved a fond farewell to the Sea Harriers, which played such a vital role in the 1982 Falklands conflict.

The final five aircraft from 801 Squadron performed a last aerial display at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset, prompting Commander Henry Mitchell to comment: "It hasn't quite hit me yet that this is the last time I will fly this amazing jet."

Mitchell has, according to the Telegraph, being flying Sea Harriers for 21 years - making him the longest serving pilot of the type.

Twenty-nine Sea Harriers served in the Falklands, with two lost to ground fire and four in accidents. They are being replaced with GR7 and GR9 (an upgraded model of the GR7) ground attack versions - GR7s in the case of 801 and 800 squadrons which are being reformed at RAF Cottesmore while retaining their "naval traditions".

Second Sea Lord vice-admiral Adrian Johns said: "It is a very emotional day and it is very sad to say farewell to the Sea Harriers, which have contributed so much, especially in the Falklands." ®

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