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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 July 2006, 08:31 GMT 09:31 UK
Vintage jet is flying into sunset
The plane flew low over Shorts, where it was built
The plane flew low over Shorts, where it was built
The end of an era has been marked over Belfast's skies with the flypast of a military jet made in the city.

A Canberra PR9, a twin engined jet built at Shorts in the 1950s and 60s, flew over the factory and the George Best City Airport on Tuesday.

Used for photo-reconnaissance, the last three are being sold and 39 (1 PRU) Squadron, which flew them, disbanded.

Flight Lt Mike Leckey was at the controls and said he would find the experience "quite emotional".

"They were in service up until four weeks ago when I flew the last operational Canberra mission over Afghanistan," he said.

"So we have been back in England for four weeks and we are running up to our disbandment on 31 July."

He said that he had enjoyed the computer-free flying of the vintage warhorse, but that because there were only three left getting support for parts had become a problem.

He said that the aeroplane was capable of reaching more than 70,000 feet, a ceiling which is impressive for a 40-year-old aircraft.

Satellite images are to replace the pictures taken by the vintage craft's array of cameras, which were operated by the navigator of the two-man crew.

Flight Lt Leckey - who learned to fly at the Queen's University Air Squadron in Belfast in the 1980s - will still remain in the air, however, he is taking a post at RAF Cranwell to train young navigators for the air force.

The flypast took place at 1040 BST on Tuesday.

Shorts director of engineering Gavin Campbell said: "It was great to see. The engineering team were all out on the Airport Road watching the aircraft make its two passes.

"I think there was a lot of pride that this was an aircraft that Belfast had been involved in."

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