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‘Have you ever been shot at?’ - Gulf war pilots reunite

PUBLISHED: 15:22 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:17 29 February 2020

RAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation Museum. Pilots David Bagshaw, William Pixton, Steve Thomas, Dick Midwinter, Chris Allam, Mike Rondot, Mike Gordon, Peter Livesey, and aviation mechanic Mick Cartwright.Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

RAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation Museum. Pilots David Bagshaw, William Pixton, Steve Thomas, Dick Midwinter, Chris Allam, Mike Rondot, Mike Gordon, Peter Livesey, and aviation mechanic Mick Cartwright.Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

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Gulf War pilots have gathered to celebrate making it through the conflict with their lives.

RAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation Museum. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN RAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation Museum. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Seventeen of the 22 RAF Jaguar fighter-bomber pilots who flew in the 1990-1991 war met at the City of Norwich Aviation Museum before a planned dinner at the George Hotel on Saturday, February 29.

Their former wing commander, William Pixton, 68, said the pilots were thrown into the deep end of Operation Desert Storm.

Mr Pixton, who lives in Colton, said: "We were co-based in Bahrain with some Tornados, and on the first night one of them got shot down.

"So when it came for our turn to go in the morning it was very worrying.

RAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation Museum. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANRAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation Museum. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

"Have you ever been shot at? It's a new experience, but you do get used to it.

"You fall back on your training and you do what you're taught to do."

Most of the Jaguar pilots had been based at RAF Coltishall, while others came from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

They flew a total of 618 sorties - around 30 each - during the three-month deployment, many of them bombing runs.

RAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation Museum. Mike Rondot Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANRAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation Museum. Mike Rondot Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Michael Rondot, a former squad leader who lives in Dereham, said: "The Jaguar turned out to be an excellent dive bomber. The aeroplane was the real star.

"It was very reliable, like a clockwork mouse."

Mr Rondot, 72, said this was the group's 29th annual reunion.

He said: "We get together, drink beer and talk, and have a black tie dinner to celebrate the end of the war and our survival.

RAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation. From left, pilots David Bagshaw, William Pixton, Steve Thomas, Dick Midwinter, Chris Allam, Mike Rondot, Mike Gordon, Peter Livesey, and, front, aviation mechanic Mick Cartwright.Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANRAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation. From left, pilots David Bagshaw, William Pixton, Steve Thomas, Dick Midwinter, Chris Allam, Mike Rondot, Mike Gordon, Peter Livesey, and, front, aviation mechanic Mick Cartwright.Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

"There were 22 of us who flew the Jaguar in the Gulf War, and 19 of us are still alive."

Mick Cartwright, 83, who was a mechanic for the group, added: "We had 12 aeroplanes out there with two engines in each aircraft, and we never changed one engine in all the time we were there.

"That's a testament to how well it as made and how these guys handle them."

The Gulf War ended on February 28, 1991 with the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

RAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation Museum. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN RAF Gulf War Jaguar Pilots return to Norwich for their 29th Anniversary reunion at Norwich Aviation Museum. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

The aviation museum has two Jaguars - one of which was flown by Mr Rondot in the Gulf War and has been painted in the 'desert pink' colour scheme they all had.

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