Royal Air Force pilots past and present recently reunited to celebrate the varied but highly distinguished history of their York based Flying Squadron.
Number 72 (Reserve) Squadron from RAF Linton-On-Ouse hosted an event that saw retired heroes meet up with the current generation of pilots to commemorate the contribution the Squadron has made over the years.
The guests were treated to a fantastic flying display with the highlights being a Tucano 9-ship formation flown by current 72 Sqn pilots and a Spitfire display from the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight that brought back memories of the Sqn’s past.
Officer Commanding 72(R) Sqn, Wing Commander Baz Dale said, “I am delighted to welcome members of the 72 Sqn Association who represent such a broad cross-section of aviation experience.”
Currently 72(R) Sqn delivers world class flying training to pilots that will go on to fly some of the most advanced fast jet aircraft in the world, the Typhoon, the F-35 Lightning II or possibly even with the Red Arrows. The Sqn’s history has taken many forms though.
No. 72 Sqn was formed in 1917 when it spent its early years based in Basra, Iraq. It then disbanded before being re-established in 1937 to fly Gladiators from RAF Church Fenton, near Tadcaster.
As World War II broke, the Sqn received delivery of its Spitfire fleet and went on to make a huge impact during the Battle Of Britain and the War in general.
72 Sqn supported the main Air Defence effort and the Dunkirk evacuation before deploying on operations in Tunisia, Malta, Sicily, Italy, France and Austria.
On returning to the UK the Sqn flew a variety of jet aircraft before being transformed into a helicopter sqn with its most successful helicopter, the Wessex, supporting operations in Malaya, the 1967 Torrey Canyon disaster and the security effort in Northern Ireland from 1981.
The event was attended by 72(R) Sqn members who had been involved in some of these operations and by listening to the stories told by veterans and serving pilots alike, it was clear that the Sqn has been and continues to be, an invaluable asset to the RAF.
Wg Cdr Dale said, “It is essential to maintain the links between those who have served their country with distinction and the high calibre staff and students of Basic Fast Jet Training, who represent the brightest and best of our future combat air power specialists.”
The annual event was attended by over 100 past and present 72(R) Sqn members and also involved a formal dinner and a visit to the York Air Museum, where some of the members were reunited with aircraft they had flown.
Editor: Flt Lt McKirgan
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2013