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Classic Navy planes to fly along Mersey; Squadron of 50 planes for centenary event.


A ONCE in a lifetime chance to see a pageant of historic Royal Navy aircraft fly along the Mersey takes place tomorrow.

This key event in the great northern celebration of Fly Navy 100, the Royal Navy's aviation centennial anniversary, will be at 2pm.

This is one of the biggest events the Royal Navy is staging for this centenary anywhere in the UK.

Some 50 aircraft will take part from the Fleet Air Arm (FAA).

These include the pre-war Fairey Swordfish "Stringbag", Merlin, Sea King, Lynx and Squirrel helicopters, Falcon, Hawk and GR9 Harrier jets.

Other classic Naval favourites flying will be Sea Vixen, Sea Fire, Sea Fury and four Fireflys.

Flying in a "Balbo" formation of several tiers, the aircraft come from the Royal Navy's many training squadrons around the UK.

The aircraft will gather at RAF Shawbury, near Shrewsbury, prior to take off in for mation.

This scratch squadron will fly from the south (Speke) northwards along the Mersey to the river mouth.

The fly-past is dependent on good weather, but the forecast is fair.

Centrepiece for Fly Navy 100 will be the RN's current flagship and strike carrier HMS Illustrious.

The aircraft carrier will be in Crosby Channel around noon today and dock at Liverpool Cruise Terminal at 2pm.

The warship will be the platform on which HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York and FAA Commodore-in- Chief, will arrive by helicopter.

He will take the salute during the fly-past, with Commander-in-Chief Fleet Admiral Sir Trevor Soar.

Later, in the first of three action events, the Fleet Air Arm's Black Cats Lynx helicopters will give a display off Albert Dock at 4pm.

On Saturday, there will be FAA role demonstrations (eg, pirate hostage rescue), at 2.30pm-3.30pm, repeated on Sunday at 11.30am-12.30pm, all off Albert Dock.

HMS Illustrious is open free to the public on Sunday at 1pm-5pm and Monday 10am-4pm, when visitors will be allowed on the flight deck. There will also be a static display of Naval aircraft open daily by the Royal Liver Building, Friday to Tuesday.

Commodore John Madgwick, RN northern England regional commander, was the driving force behind this Mersey celebration.

"This is a splendid way to mark the centenary," he said.



HMS Illustrious will arrive in the Mersey today for Fly Navy 100
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 22, 2009
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