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Military flypast rehearsal ahead of coronation

2023-06-01 17:01:13 source:CBS News author:Press center7 click:337order

Dozens of military aircraft took to the skies over Lincolnshire as the armed forces rehearsed for the UK's first coronation in 70 years.

The college at RAF Cranwell represented Buckingham Palace as more than 30 aircraft, including a Lancaster bomber, took part in the practice run.

The full flypast for King's coronation on 6 May will include 68 aircraft.

A 93-year-old veteran of the flypast at Queen Elizabeth II's 1953 coronation urged pilots taking part to "enjoy it".

Retired squadron leader Terrance Devey Smith, from Melbourne, Derbyshire, was guest of honour at RAF Cranwell for the rehearsal event.

Mr Devey Smith was a 23-year-old RAF Flying Officer when he took part in the Queen's coronation 70 years ago.

Flying a Meteor aircraft, he recalled how there were fears the flypast would have to be called off due to poor weather, but a last-minute decision was made to go ahead as conditions improved.

He said all the pilots in 1953 were concentrating on not crashing into the huge crowds below, and that meant focusing on the next aircraft in the formation.

When asked if he had any advice for the pilots on 6 May, he said: "Just enjoy it. It is exhilarating."

The former pilot described the coronation flypast as one of the highlights of his life but said he was now happy to keep his feet on the ground and would be watching celebrations at home on TV.

The Red Arrows and the full Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will be among other aircraft taking part in the celebrations in London.

Air Vice-Marshal Mark Flewin, Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group said the rehearsal went to plan but refused to reveal details of some surprises which the RAF is saving for the day.

He said it was "humbling for us" to deliver the flypast for the King, who spent time as a student at RAF Cranwell.

The coronation flypast will follow the King's coronation parade at 14:30 BST.

The first aircraft to fly over Buckingham Palace will be a Juno HT1 helicopter from RAF Shawbury, which will be piloted by Flight Lieutenant Tom Knapp.

He said: "It's great to see months of planning and detailed coordination between all the different aircraft, which fly at different speeds, starting to come together.

"I feel hugely privileged and excited to get to fly over the palace for the King on this momentous occasion."

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