A group of 10 Royal Air Force Puma helicopters will conduct a flypast on Wednesday, gliding over sites across England that hold historical significance for aircraft.
The helicopters have received a new paint scheme to mark the occasion and now sport a union flag on the tail fin and bespoke Puma 50 logos replacing RAF emblem on the cabin door.
Since 1971, Puma helicopters have been an integral part of many RAF missions and have been used in humanitarian and combat operations across the world.
In recent decades, the helicopters have been deployed to Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mozambique and the Caribbean.
They have also flown missions within the UK, assisting with flood relief efforts, and most recently, partaking in the UK’s coronavirus response by transporting equipment and personnel to northern England and Scotland during the first lockdown.
The helicopters will take flight around 10am from the RAF Benson base in Oxfordshire, which is home to two frontline Puma helicopter squadrons.
A post on the base’s Facebook page said: “A formation of up to 10 Puma helicopters will depart RAF Benson tomorrow morning as part of a training sortie that will include flypasts of notable locations for the Puma Force over the past 50 years.
“This includes sites that hold historical significance for the Puma Force as well as those that provide support to delivering current Puma operational capability.”
The post included maps which it said provided illustrative examples of some of the locations to be visited although it added “unfortunately we are unable to fly over everywhere”.
The flypast will consist of three legs, with the first beginning at RAF Benson around 10am. It is scheduled to proceed through Halton, High Wycombe, Northolt, Hendon, Wyton, Wittering, Cranwell and Waddington before ending at RAF Scampton around 11.55am.
In the second leg, it the helicopters scheduled to leave Scampton at 1.30 pm and to fly past the National Memorial Arboretum, Shawbury, Shobdon, Salisbury Plain, Boscombe Down, and end at Middle Wallop at 3.30pm.
The flypast’s final leg is set to depart Middle Wallop at 4.55pm, flying over Andover, Odiham, Sandhurst, Farnborough and ending back at RAF Benson at 6.30pm.
RAF Benson also encouraged those watching to share their images using the hashtag #Puma50 and watching safely and in accordance with all regulation.
In the mid-2020s, the Puma helicopter is set to be retired and replaced by a new medium-lift helicopter.
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