A HAMPSHIRE RAF base is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its iconic aircraft.

A Chinook from RAF Odiham was painted to celebrate the anniversary, and was unveiled this week as the aircraft left its base for a routine training flight.

On board was the paint scheme designer and current Chinook pilot Flight Lieutenant Andy Donovan of 27 Squadron, RAF Odiham who said: “It has been a great privilege to rejuvenate special liveries on the Chinook Force over the past five years.

"For a short time, this aircraft will be the centrepiece around which 40 years of incredible stories can be told. I am personally very proud to be associated with the Chinook and the professionalism displayed by all who contribute to getting this incredible aircraft into the air, wherever it may be needed.”

The commemorative paint scheme was applied during regular scheduled routine maintenance at no additional cost. The design has taken two years of groundwork and engineering preparation before entering the paint bay at RAF Odiham. A dedicated team from Serco have worked over several weeks to apply the special commemorative livery.

The Boeing CH-47 Chinook Helicopter entered RAF service on the 22nd November 1980. Throughout its 40 years of service the Chinook has made an immeasurable contribution to the Service, supporting communities across the UK and operating in every major conflict since the Falklands War.

Commander of the Joint Helicopter Command Air Vice Marshal Nigel Colman OBE said: “For most of its time in Service, the RAF Chinook has been part of the Joint Helicopter Command where its incredible capability has been in great demand, both at home and overseas.

"All those involved with Chinook operations, both past and present, should take great pride in what they have achieved. The Chinook will continue to be a familiar sight and sound in the years ahead and we all look forward to the next chapter in the Chinook’s illustrious history.”

RAF Odiham Station Commander Group Captain Nick Knight OBE MA said: “Since receiving the Chinook in 1980, its contribution to Defence has been profound.

"From first deployment to the Falklands to current operations in West Africa, the Chinook has continually delivered on operations.

"Offering a capability second to none, the Chinook emotes a sense of pride built on this long and illustrious history. I am privileged to fly this iconic aircraft and also Command the Chinook Force - I look forward to seeing the Chinook play an equally important role as part of the next generation RAF.

The newly painted aircraft, ZD984, has re-entered 27 Squadron’s fleet at RAF Odiham and will resume essential routine training for operations in the UK and overseas. The painted Chinook will support the RAF Chinook Display Team’s season and commemorative events throughout 2021.