Which Hollywood A-lister had a dream jet flight at RAF Marham?
- Credit: Sgt Paul Oldfield
A Hollywood hero fulfilled a childhood dream when he flew in one of RAF Marham's Tornado jets.
Actor Tom Hardy travelled to the Norfolk base in the early hours for a training sortie with 31 Squadron, better known as the Goldstars.
'As a little boy I always wanted to go in a jet, it was amazing,' he said.
'I got an adrenaline rush and I can see what's exciting about flying a fast jet. It takes a certain person to fly at that speed and I have an immense amount of respect for them, it was a pleasure to spend time with the RAF.'
Mr Hardy's first appointment was with the 'squippers' or survival equipment fitters, who kitted him out in his helmet and flight suit. He then underwent flight safety briefings, an aircrew brief and a medical.
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'The safety procedures were very clear,' he said. 'They made sure the helmet was on safe and I had the right equipment to go up. They are a professional team of men and women, there was a good bit of banter. I then met the pilots who were very smart, talented, highly skilled professionals.
'All in all the efficiency and clarity of the day was very precise, being taken from one place to another. I was briefed on the sortie which was an hour and a half. It's something I never thought I would experience being a civilian and I feel honoured, it's a great privilege to fly.'
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Flight Lieut Steve Tucker was the pilot who flew with Mr Hardy.
'It was great to fly with Tom,' he said. 'He loved the whole experience. He was genuinely interested in the aircraft and the people that he met, and has huge respect for our role on operations.'
Mr Hardy's visit was linked to the Sun Military Awards, in which the 904 Expeditionary Air Group's, Tornado Detachment won the prestigious Best Unit category.
Mr Hardy presented the award to Wing Cdr Rich Yates, 31 Sqn's commanding officer.
'I'm really grateful that the lads and the girls in the Squadron are out there looking after our troops on the ground, keeping them safe and ultimately how the RAF look after us as a country, so we can all sleep soundly in our beds in the knowledge they are doing such an amazing job.
'I'll take away from the day a sense of efficiency and professionalism of the RAF and the experience of the Tornado, it was brilliant.'
The RAF Tornado GR4 has been on active service for twenty-three consecutive years, serving with distinction in Iraq, Kosovo, Libya and Afghanistan in the close air support, reconnaissance and intelligence gathering role.
Towards the end of the decade, the Tornado is due to be replaced with the next generation Lightning II fast jet, which will also be based at Marham.