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Last days at Bruggen

Peter Esser witnesses the last RAF gatherings at the last outpost in Germany

The last, last, last photocall 3 May

This event was limited to just 100 people only, and naturally, such a small quantity of tickets were soon allocated. The 'event' simply involved visitors being taken onto the flightline for an hour to watch any arrivals/departures of based Tornados. Seems the RAF wanted to vacate Germany with a whimper, rather than a bang!

Gazelle XZ295 represented the forthcoming AAC contingent

GR4 ZA542/DM from 31 Squadron

ZA542/DM again but at dispersal

GR4 ZA598/AY from 9 Squadron

ZG750/DY outside a typical German HAS

ZG791/BI from 14 Squadron, which left Bruggen last January

Take off from runway 09The last, last, last RAF Bruggen Families Day, 16 June

Sure, we expected some more aircraft for this last event. Rumours were everywhere, but the decision by the Base Commander was to only invite former based aircraft types.

So, we saw: One Jaguar T2  (XX845/ET) from 6 Squadron, although devoid of markings; one Canberra T4 (WH849) from 39 Squadron;  and two Tornado GR4s (ZA598/AY from 9 Squadron and ZA410/DX from 31 Squadron). The only other visitors in the small static display were a single Merlin HC3 (ZJ125/J) from 28 Squadron and a UH-1D (70+72/SAR) of the GAF with LTG-61 markings. To add a little colour, also present was civilian registered YAK18 RA-44506 in tiger camo, crewed by a former 230 Squadron pilot and his wife. On a soccer field was a Gazelle AH1 (XZ291) of 12 FLT. Supporting the RAF Falcons was Hercules C1 XV196, which arrived in the morning. Flying displays included a Tornado display flown by 15(R) Squadron with GR1 ZA360/TL, and 20(R) Squadron's Harrier GR7 ZD375.

Airfield attackAn airfield attack was staged in the afternoon, (ZD745) five GR4s taking off for the attack and a later four-ship flypast. Nick-named 'Vampire Flight', every Tornado made a right break direct after take-off to give a close fly-by to the crowd.

The two remaining Bruggen squadrons, 9 and 31 Squadrons, will re-locate to RAF Marham in mid-July. Four or five Gazelles will stay to support the incoming AAC operation - one signal regiment and others will move into Brüggen. The runway will be closed and used as parking area for the incoming regiments.


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