RESIDENTS noticed an impressive display of three military planes flying overhead in parts of Dorset this afternoon. 

The display was in fact three of the RAF’s Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules which were flying across the country as part of their farewell tour. 

Passing parts of Poole, Bournemouth and Wimborne, the military planes were on their last hurrah before they are finally put to bed after years of service. 

Bournemouth Echo: Picture: Allen Gilbert-StroudPicture: Allen Gilbert-Stroud (Image: Allen Gilbert-Stroud)

The planes took of from RAF Brize Norton this morning and have been up to Scotland.

A spokesman for RAF Brize Norton said: “The fly-past to mark the forthcoming retirement of the C-130 Hercules from RAF service is today.” 

The C-130J is the newest version of the C-130 Hercules and is the only model currently in production.  

Introduced to the air in 1999, the C-130J was used extensively by the United States Air Force and the USMC in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Five hundred have been built in the USA since 1996 and the plane is used all over the world, including by our Royal Air Force. 

It is also used by the Australians, the Canadians and the Germans. 

Two pilots are required to fly the aircraft, which is also capable of reaching speeds of up to 370mph and can fly as high as 40,000ft. 

It is frequently employed to operate into countries or regions where there is a threat to aircraft; its performance, tactics and defensive systems make it the ideal platform for such tasks, the RAF say. 

It adds: “The aircraft is highly flexible, with the ability to airdrop a variety of stores and paratroopers, and operate from natural surface landing zones.   

“To conduct these missions it is vital that Hercules crews are highly skilled in low-level flying. The aircraft performs in the same roles at night using night-vision goggles (NVGs), while station keeping equipment (SKE) enables it to remain in formation during poor weather. 

“Long-range capabilities are enhanced with air-to-air refuelling, while the Air Survival Rescue Apparatus may be mounted in the cabin for search and rescue missions, enabling the Hercules to airdrop life rafts and emergency supplies.”