Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Final RAF flight leaves NI base

203 Tiger squadron leaving Northern Ireland
The flight marks the end of the RAF using Northern Ireland as a base

The last RAF squadron based in Northern Ireland has left Aldergrove, the Ministry of Defence has said.

On Tuesday morning 230 "Tiger" Squadron took off in a helicopter diamond formation from Aldergrove for their new base at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.

The flight of the Pumas marked the end of the RAF's 91-year history of flying from Northern Ireland.

Wing Commander Rich Maddison said an "important chapter in the RAF's history" had closed.

"This squadron could not have achieved all it has on operations over the past six years without the essential training we have been able to conduct in the province and we shall certainly miss being here," he said.

With the continuous operational deployments it has been required to participate in Tuesday was the first time all of the squadron personnel had been together for six years.

The formation of Puma aircraft was seen by many people as the squadron flew from Aldergrove across parts of Counties Antrim and Down before heading over the Irish Sea.

In September the RAF flag was lowered at Aldergrove and replaced by that of the Joint Helicopter Force.

The squadron's departure marks the end of basing at Aldergrove for the RAF and command has passed to the three-service Joint Helicopter Force.

However, aircraft from all three services will continue to use facilities and a number of RAF personnel will remain based at Aldergrove.



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