Tekst: R.Kellenaers Foto's: Various Aircraft Photographers

Date April 9th, 2008. At RAF Marham, located in Suffolk United Kingdom, a group of aircraft enthousiasts, called the RAF, are preparing a Panavia Tornado GR.4  for a special mission... A friendship visit to Airport Weeze (former RAF Laarbruch). After preparations for the flight the Tornado takes off at around 1500hrs for a 45 minute flight to Germany. The aircraft involved is ZD745 a GR.4 that is used to the German airspace. This aircraft used to be homebased at RAF Bruggen, some 30 miles south of Laarbruch.

At 1545 the GR.4, with callsign "RAFAIR7031'' (Klik here for the soundfile) )was inbound Laarbruch and was the third aircraft in sequence after two Boeing 737's from the homecarrier of airport Weeze, Ryanair. For the Pilot a rare experience to follow two civilian aircraft to the apron.


After landing the Tornado was ordered to taxi via taxiway bravo and sierra to the apron. Lucky for the spotters present at bravo! It was here that the crew of the GR.4 received their first "warm welcome" by a bunch of aircraft spotters waving and taking pictures.


At the apron the crew were greeted by the members of the Laarbruch-Museum and the town of Weeze. The BFBS (British Forces Broadcast Station was also standing by to film the whole event for a newsarticle. Finally the RAF was back again at it's former homebase!


The Tornado was tucked in and put to sleep, while the crew enjoyed their stay in Weeze. The next morning at around 1100hrs local the tornado departed again to RAF Marham in the United Kingdom.


The Panavia Tornado is a family of twin-engine combat aircraft, which was jointly developed by the United Kingdom, West Germany and Italy. There are three primary versions of the Tornado; the Tornado IDS (Interdictor/Strike) fighter-bomber, the suppression of enemy air defences Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat/Reconnaissance) and the Tornado ADV (Air Defence Variant) interceptor. It is one of the world's most sophisticated and capable interdiction and attack aircraft, with a large payload, long range and high survivability.

Developed and built by Panavia, a tri-national consortium consisting of British Aerospace (then the British Aircraft Corporation), MBB of West Germany, and Alenia Aeronautica of Italy, the Tornado first flew on August 14, 1974, and saw action with the RAF and AMI (Italian Air Force) in the Gulf War. International co-operation continued after its entry into service within the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment, a tri-nation training and evaluation unit operating from RAF Cottesmore, England. Including all variants, 992 aircraft were built for the three partner nations and Saudi Arabia.


Niederrhein Aviation Society