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Navy pilots take to the air to mark a century

PUBLISHED: 16:31 13 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:40 25 August 2010

AIRBORNE: The choppers dive-bomb Illustrious.

AIRBORNE: The choppers dive-bomb Illustrious.

HELICOPTERS dive-bombed over the Thames to celebrate 100 years of naval aviation, writes Jules Cooper.

HELICOPTERS dive-bombed over the Thames to celebrate 100 years of naval aviation, writes Jules Cooper.

Pilots based aboard HMS Illustrious, which was moored in Greenwich this week, provided a death defying display in front of the Old Royal Naval College, last Saturday.

To mark a century since the Admiralty purchased its first aircraft - His Majesty's Air Ship 1 - a number of displays were made as sailors wandered around Greenwich town centre.

Welling and Bexleyheath Royal Air Force Association member Brian Marsh, attended a Thursday display where he spotted Prince Andrew making his way to the warship.

The 62-year-old, of Elsa Road, Welling, said: "There were hundreds of people staring up as 17 helicopters flew over, then four Jet Streams, then four Hawks.

"It was a magnificent display despite the wretched weather."

The Royal Navy also had a Harrier jump jet parked in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College.

Speaking at the celebrations, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope KCB OBE, said: "Over 80 per cent of our Squadrons are currently deployed.

"The Fleet Air Arm has never been in greater demand proving its utility and versatility in land operations as well as at sea."

For more information on the Fleet Air Arm's Centenary, visit www.royalnavy.mod.uk/ fly navy100.

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