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The Harrier is transported by road to Stanley
The convoy makes its way down the main road to Stanley
Cdre Michael Clapp in  the road named after him
Cdr Tim Gedge in the cockpit of the Sea Harrier transported to the Falklands
The JARTS team  with the two  aircraft
The Lynx arrives by low-loader on the edge of Stanley
A memorial service for those lost on HMS Glamorgan in 1982
A police escort for the Harrier and Lynx on the road to Stanley

Naval engineers complete 8,000-mile move of vintage aircraft to Falklands

Published: 26 Jun 2024

Two vintage naval aircraft brought traffic to a halt (briefly) in the Falklands as they completed an 8,000-mile journey to their new home.

Sea Harrier ZH801 and Lynx XZ725 were moved by low-loader on the final leg of the odyssey – a slow 40-mile transit from remote Mare Harbour – the military port serving East Falkland – to the islands’ capital.

Given the size and weight of the two machines, there was something of a rush-hour jam (which is about half a dozen vehicles in the sparsely-populated British territory).

And given the aircrafts’ role in the 1982 conflict, islanders didn’t mind too much, describing it as “the best traffic jam in the world”.

The team overseeing the move in the Falklands were the same ones who’d carefully prepped the machines for the voyage south: the military’s experts in such delicate moves – the Joint Aircraft Recovery and Transportation Squadron (JARTS), a combined RN-RAF unit at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire (they took the quicker flying option down to the Falklands... not available to the old warbirds).

Six naval personnel from JARTS, led by Chief Petty Officer Stewart Wright, were on hand to ensure the final stage went as smoothly as all the rest.

Also waiting to greet the aircraft were two veterans of the 1982 conflict for the islands: Commodore Michael Clapp and Commander Tim Gedge – who, respectively, were in charge of the amphibious task group and the Harriers of 809 Naval Air Squadron.

“They did a magnificent job in what was a potentially tricky operation and I was impressed with the way they handled everything that came their way in the best traditions of the Fleet Air Arm,” said Mr Gedge.

“The transit along the road drew large crowds and there was great interest from everyone we met. The islanders are hugely grateful to have these two aircraft for display.”

The two former naval officers made the long trip south again (Cdre Clapp is a spritely 92) to see the machines reach their final destination and also remember fallen comrades, laying wreaths at memorial services for destroyer HMS Glamorgan (June 12) and then at the islands’ Liberation Day parade in Stanley two days later.

The two veteran naval aircraft were on display to the public at their final destination, a plot of land allocated for the Lookout Gallery and Exhibition Hall, for two days before they were ‘wrapped up’ by the JARTS team to preserve them from the Falklands elements (it’s midwinter now in the Southern Hemisphere) until the new exhibition hall is completed in spring next year.

They and the new exhibition hall, which allows museum curators to better tell the story of the 1982 conflict for the islands, are expected to help pull in as many as 100,000 visitors every year – double current figures and more than 30 times the Falklands’ population – through the ever-growing cruise ship trade visiting Stanley.

Only the Lynx saw service in the 1982 campaign; the Sea Harrier, ZH801, was delivered to the Fleet Air Arm after the war and served until 2004 then acted as a ‘hangar guardian’ on display at RAF Cottesmore and, more recently, RNAS Yeovilton.

XZ725 on the other hand had an interesting war.

Operating from frigate HMS Brilliant, she attacked and crippled the Argentine submarine Santa Fe in South Georgia during the opening moves of Operation Corporate.

Constantly upgraded and overhauled, the aircraft finally evolved into a Lynx Mk8 – she still bears the marking and cockpit art left by the last flight to operate her from the deck of frigate HMS Iron Duke.

To better tell the stories of both machines – and the wider role of the Fleet Air Arm in Falklands – Mr Gedge and the Lynx’s observer in 82, Nick Butler, have provided the museum with detailed accounts.


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