A HELICOPTER operated by the Army Air Corps touched down for the final time at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop.

The aircraft which is due to be retired from military service on Tuesday, October 31 was flown in a formation of three helicopters crewed by personnel from 5 Regiment Army Air Corps based in Northern Ireland.

The flypast started at Flying Station Aldergrove in Northern Ireland stopping off or overflying historic locations throughout the UK.

Major Richard Jones, the officer commanding 665 Squadron was the last pilot to be trained to fly the Gazelle.

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He said “It's really nice to be the final student in its near 50 years of service. And now here I am actually taking it out of service as well. So, I feel quite privileged to have been able to do that.”

The Gazelle’s time in the UK Armed Forces showcased its adaptability and effectiveness in various roles, leaving behind a remarkable record of service and contributing significantly to the UK defence output.

Jones added: “Over the years that it has been flying, some fantastic men and women have operated it and part of today is paying tribute to them, those that have lost their lives over the years and those who have worked in it all over the world, in roles from medevac, (medical evacuation) reconnaissance, the movement of men and material. It really is a jack of all trades of an aircraft.”

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David Caldwell who works on station operations at the Army Aviation Centre flew the Gazelle in service between 1976 and 2009.

He added: “It was a very nice aircraft to fly. It was a sports car in the air. Simple to operate and very basic. I was lucky to get to fly it in many countries including Northern Ireland, Germany, the UK, Belize, Cyprus, and Canada.”