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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 September 2006, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Lone Nimrod in tribute to troops
Nimrod flies over RAF Leuchars
Group captain Chris Birks flew the Nimrod
Thousands of people watched in silence as a lone Nimrod performed a flypast tribute to 14 British servicemen killed in Afghanistan.

The reconnaissance aircraft passed overhead during the annual international military airshow at RAF Leuchars in Fife on Saturday.

The Nimrod flew down especially from RAF Kinloss in Moray, where 12 of the dead crew were based.

They died last Saturday when their Nimrod MR2 came down near Kandahar.

Group captain Chris Birks, commander of RAF Kinloss, piloted the plane in a tribute to his fallen colleagues.

Flight Lieutenant Keith Wardlaw, media spokesman at Leuchars, said: "The Nimrod flypast was one of the most dramatic moments of an action-packed day.

"It performed a fly past at 200ft from the sea passing over the crowd and away inland. A very poignant moment indeed.

"After it flew past we had a minute's silence with no aircraft in the skies and no loudspeaker announcements.

"The visitors, mainly families, paused during that time and seemed to reflect on the terrible events of one week ago."

Bodies to return

Twelve airmen, a Royal Marine and a soldier died in last Saturday's crash when their Nimrod MR2 came down near Kandahar in Afghanistan after a technical fault.

Air force chiefs and senior figures will attend a ceremony at Kinloss on Tuesday marking the return of the bodies of those who lost their lives.

The flypast was part of a seven-hour airshow at RAF Leuchars, which is near St Andrews, this year coincided with the 90th anniversary of the base. Aircraft from the US, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic were among those which thrilled the crowds.

As well as appearances from a host of military jets and helicopters, airshow favourites The Red Arrows aerobatic team corkscrewed in the skies above the air base.

A Battle of Britain fly past, featuring historic aircraft like Spitfires and Hurricanes, was also staged along with a simulated attack on an airfield.

On the ground at Leuchars - which is normally home to part of the UK's Tornado squadron - members of the public could get close to jets such as a US Air Force B52 bomber, an F15 fighter and an RAF Chinook helicopter.

Civilian aircraft such as Chipmunks and Microlights were also on display.


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