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Pilots from Benson lead royal flypast
9:30am Monday 21st May 2012 in Wallingford
HELICOPTER pilots from RAF Benson led a flypast over Windsor for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration.
About 2,500 troops from the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force – including some from Benson – paraded through the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle on Saturday.
They then marched through the town, with a tri-service Guard of Honour and six military bands.
The Queen and Prince Philip travelled along the route before watching a flypast of 78 aircraft, including helicopters, Hawks, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the Red Arrows and Tornados.
A Royal Air Force Merlin from Benson led the flypast, heading up a 12-helicopter formation which also included a Puma from the Oxfordshire base.
Wing Commander Jason Appleton, who was on board the Merlin and is based at RAF Benson, said: “It is an absolute honour, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the first of 78 aircraft saluting the Queen.
“We routinely work with the Army and Navy as a part of Joint Helicopter Command in the UK and on operations around the world such as Afghanistan, so in that sense it is business as usual.”
He was joined in the helicopter by pilot Ft Lt Stu Martin and Sqn Ldr Sean Leach, both also from Benson.
The Queen made a speech before a performance of specially-composed music.
Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards said: “Her Majesty The Queen’s support and encouragement over the years has created a very special bond between our monarch and her forces.”