The award of the flying badge (“wings”) to the Basic Fast-jet student pilots from 72 Squadron represented a significant stage in their career and will be followed by Advanced Fast-Jet training on the Hawk at RAF Valley in North Wales.
Reviewing the graduation was the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston CBE ADC who said:
“The Tucano has given outstanding service, training our frontline pilots since 1989. All good things come to an end, and we must now step to a new generation of training aircraft for a new generation of pilots. The men and women who will fly modern combat aircraft like the Typhoon and Lightning need a trainer that best prepares them for that mission. We will miss the Tucano, but its place in RAF history is secure. We look to a bright future with its replacement aircraft, the Texan.”
“Today was also very special for me, awarding wings to the last four pilots graduating on Tucano. Receiving your wings is a moment that every pilot treasures. I wish them every success and an exciting future in the RAF and RN.”
Chief of the Air Staff
Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston CBE ADC
The final flight marking the retirement was witnessed by the Station and a number of guests who were treated to a 9-ship sortie over the local area. As the last Tucano landed it received the traditional hosing down by the fire engines. As the aircraft fell silent for the last time in RAF service further overflights by a Typhoon, Hawk and F-35 followed; all types that the pilots graduating that day on Basic Fast-Jet Training course 274 will became familiar with in due course.
The student pilots arrived at RAF Linton-on-Ouse having completed their Elementary Flying Training at RAFC Cranwell where they will have been streamed to enter fast-jet, large multi-engine or helicopter training. Upon completion on fast-jet training at RAF Valley the pilots will eventually fly either the Typhoon or the F35 Lightning II on their respective front-line squadrons.
Introduced to the RAF in 1989, the Tucano has been the mainstay of Basic Fast-jet Training at its North Yorkshire base at RAF Linton-on-Ouse. Following its 30 years of flying training, the Tucano will formally go out of service at the end of October 2019.
From November 2019 the new Texan aircraft will be the new basic fast-jet training aircraft at RAF Valley as part of the UK Military Flying Training System, a £3.2Billion programme to modernise the entirety of the UK Military’s flying training system.