British Army, July 31, 2015 - The Army Air Corps closed a chapter of its history today as it bid farewell to the Lynx Mk7 aircraft and the last Lynx students were awarded their graduation certificates.
It was day of sadness and celebrations as Lynx Mk7 crews past and present gathered to say goodbye to the much loved aircraft and also to mark the 70th Anniversary of 671 Lynx Conversion Squadron.
The event opened with a six Lynx Mk7 flypast including the last backflip, a move the Lynx is famous for.
Major Jon Stewart-Davis, Officer Commanding of 671 Squadron Army Air Corps, said: “As the OC of 671 Squadron, it has been a privilege to have the honour of taking the last Lynx Mk7 students through their training. They have worked incredibly hard to get to this point; it’s a long period of training with over 200 hours of flying. For their training to culminate on the Mk7’s final flight with the students flying the aircraft, and also on the Squadrons 70th Anniversary is very special.
“I am very happy and proud of them and hope they have a wonderful future with the Army Air Corps,” Maj Stewart-Davis added.
The final backflip was performed by Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) Mick Kildea and Captain Neil Posthumus, the AAC’s award winning 2014 display pilots. WO1 Kildea said: “I am very proud to have been a part of the formation today, it’s a great privilege to be the final person to fly the final aerobatic backflip for the British Army. The Mk7 doing the backflip today, XZ184, was converted from a Mk1 airframe which was the first Lynx to do a backflip so it is fitting that she also did the last.”
During the ceremony, the students were presented with their graduation certificates by the Guest of Honour Jonathan Hayward, son of Sir Jack Hayward who was a founder member of 671 Sqn.
The honour of flying three of the six Lynx Mk7’s during the formation flight went to the students; Captain Jordan Jones (25) from Liverpool, Sergeant Etienne Coetzer (32) from Upington South Africa and Sergeant Retief Uys (32) from Pretoria South Africa. Captain Jones Said: “The training has been demanding but the Lynx Operational Conversion was some of the best flying I’ve had the opportunity to do and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The Conversion to Type Training is about 3 months long and we are trained initially to fly this aircraft type, before moving onto Conversion to Role Training where we learn to operate the aircraft in a tactical environment. To end our training with flying the last Lynx Mk7 aircraft in a formation flight over Middle Wallop is truly memorable.”
As well as deploying on most of the UK’s major operations over the past 38 years, the Lynx also assisted in several humanitarian missions and has deployed to Kenya, Canada, Norway, Belize and the Middle East supporting British Army and Royal Marine training.
Alongside operations and exercises, the Lynx Mk7 has thrilled airshow crowds around the world with its aerial displays. As part of the Blue Eagles display team, the Mk7 was able to show off its full aerobatic capability as one of the few helicopters that can perform a barrel roll, backflip and loop.
The Wildcat AH1 will eventually replace all the Lynx helicopters in the AAC service when the Lynx Mk9A retires in 2018. It has a lot of the fine qualities of the Lynx but takes the original basic design to new levels of capability.
The Lynx in British Army service has at times been known as a ‘jack of all trades’. In certain terms, this could be considered true but the sheer amount of roles it has fulfilled successfully in its 38 year history is testament to its flexibility.
It has served not only those that have flown it impeccably but most importantly those it has served on the ground incredibly well. The Lynx will always be fondly remembered by those that have flown it as a true pilot’s aircraft; highly manoeuvrable, lots of control power and a fine looking aircraft.