A TriStar KC1 tanker (RAF code ZD952) flies over Kemble Air Day, Kemble Airport, Gloucestershire, England (Image © Adrian Pingstone)

End of RAF Lockheed TriStar

It’s the end for yet another great, maybe even iconic, aircraft in the Royal Air Force inventory. Two RAF L1011 TriStars flew the type’s final operational mission together on Monday 24 March 2014. The aircraft flew from RAF Brize Norton to the North Sea for an air to air refueling mission. Afterwards, one TriStar performed flypasts at various UK airfields.

The TriStar was in British service for 30 years, the purchase being a direct result of the painful RAF tanker shortage during the Falklands war. A total of nice aircraft entered service with 216 squadron at RAF Brize Norton. Six aircraft were former British Airways airliners and three were ex PanAm.

Over the years, the TriStar tankers refueled aircraft in every major conflict and transported 250,000 troops to hot spots around the world. The RAF TriStars were among the last remaining of their kind. A total of 250 L1011 TriStars were built by Lockheed between 1968 and 1984.

The last four RAF TriStars final flights are to Bruntingthorpe airfield, where disposal awaits these great giants. Number 216 squadron is being disbanded. The air tanker role is now fulfilled by the Airbus A330 MRTT Voyager aircraft, with 14 ordered by the UK government.

Old colours, old picture, old aircraft, old skool, old everything: Lockheed L-1100 TriStar
Old colours, old picture, old aircraft, old skool: Lockheed L-1100 TriStar. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest