Page last updated at 13:25 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 14:25 UK

Centenary of Navy flying marked

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The Royal Navy fly-past over the HMS Illustrious

The Royal Navy has marked 100 years of aviation with a spectacular fly-past over HMS Illustrious in London.

A formation of 40 aircraft, led by Merlin attack helicopters, passed directly over the strike carrier.

Sea King and Lynx helicopters, Hawks and Jetstreams were among the aircraft flying over the Thames near the old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

The Duke of York, commodore-in-chief of the Fleet Air Arm, viewed the fly-past and met war veterans.

Prince Andrew met, among others, the Navy's most decorated pilot, Captain Eric Brown, and Fairey Swordfish pilot John Moffat, who crippled the German battleship Bismarck in World War II.

The prince, a former naval pilot who saw active service in the Falklands, was guest of honour on board Illustrious as the planes passed overhead at midday.

The BBC's Peter Grant described how crowds of naval personnel on the deck of the Illustrious watched as four Merlin helicopters, which had probably seen service in Iraq, led the fly-past.

They were followed by a long stream of helicopters including Sea Kings and Lynxes, curling around the course of the river, heading towards the silhouetted city of London as a thin rain fell.

The aircraft carrier will be moored in London for almost a week.

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07 May 09 |  UK

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