348 MTA Suspension of Operations - RF-4E Phantom II Retirement
Larissa State Airport "Thessaly" (IATA: LRA, ICAO: LGLR) was built in 1912. It has been the commercial airport of Larissa until 1997, when it officially had been closed for civilian traffic. Currently the airfield is hosting two squadrons of the Hellenic Air Force 110th Wing: 337 Mira and 348 MTA (348 MTA was suspended the 05th May 2017).
On Thursday the 04th May 2017, we were invited by the Hellenic Air Force, to join the Spotterday, for the Phinal Phlights, of the very last remaining Recce Phantom's. Being the last European Air Force, still operating the aging RF-4E Phantom II (a lot of them had been in use with the German Armed Forces, as well), the Hellenic Air Force has retired it's "Phinal Three", on Friday the 05th May 2017. Therefore aircraft 7499 (ex. German Air Force 35+52) has received a stunning special phlyout livery, to celebrate and honour this historical day. The official Phlyout Ceremony on Friday the 05th May 2017 had been open for the public, as well.
Beside the resident F-16 Fighting Falcon from 337 Mira and RF-4E Phantom II from 348 MTA, two F-16AM Fighting Falcon from 1st Squadron "Stingers", based at Florennes (Belgium), as well as one Mirage 2000-5BG from 331 Mira and one Mirage 2000EG from 332 Mira, both from 114 PM, based at Tanagra, had been visiting the "Spotterday" on Thursday the 04th May 2017 (Mirage 2000EG was part of the Pharewell formation). Unfortunately the Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado Gr.4 were suffering a bird strike at Cyprus, and had to cancel their appearance.
Hellenic Air Force A-7 Corsair Fly Out - We left Greek Skies to meet other Gods
Araxos was established as a military airport in 1936, but construction of the runway was not completed until 1941, when it also became the site of the first radar installation in Greece. The airport is serving as the home base of the Hellenic Air Force's 116th Combat Wing/ 116 PM (116 Πτέρυγα Μάχης) since May 1969, and of its precursor the 116th Combat Group (116 Σμηναρχία Μάχης) since April 1962. It currently comprises the 336th Bomber Squadron/ 336 Mira "Olympus" operating the A-7 Corsair II, and 335th Squadron/ 335 Mira "Tigers" operating the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon.
335 Mira "Tigers", is the oldest squadron in service with the Hellenic Air Force. Until March 2008, it was equipped with the A-7 Corsair. Nowadays it is operating with +/- 30 newly purchased F-16 Block 52+ Fighting Falcon.
336 Mira "Olympus" is the second oldest squadron in service with the Hellenic Air Force. Following the withdrawal of the type from 335 Mira, it was the last Hellenic Air Force unit equipped with the A-7 Corsair till the 17th October 2014.
On Thursday the 16th October 2014 around 07.30am, Air Base Araxos opened it's doors for aviation enthusiasts and press/ media representatives from all over the world, to eyewitness one of the very last flights of the A-7 Corsair II, being in service for at least 39 years within the Hellenic Air Force.
The Greeks acquired 60x A-7Hs and 5x TA-7Hs from LTV between 1975-1980 and then 50x A-7Es and 18x TA-7Cs from the US Navy's inventory in 1993-1994. Almost 60x of them could have been seen and photographed in various conditions throughout the day. At least 7x of them had been reported as being "active"; one of them, the Olympus special, was marshalled for the Last Time, by "Capt. Jack Sparrow", himself.....
Beside the various former and current 335 Mira and 336 Mira aircraft, a small additional flying program was established for Friday the 17th October 2014. It was consisting of a Fly By of one Mirage 2000-5EG, serialled 555, from 331 Mira/ 114 PM at Tanagra, one TA-7C Corsair II, serialled 156753 from 336 Mira/ 116 PM, one F-16C Falcon, serialled 012 from 335 Mira/ 116 PM as well as one F-4E (AUP) Phantom II, serialled 01528 from 117 PM, based at Andravida.
During the Retirement on Friday the 17th October 2014, the very last special painted Vought LTV A-7 Corsair II, serialled 159648 had been revealed. Luckily we were able (after having a lot of talks to the authorities) to get the beauty out of the Hangar, directly into the sun, to represent the World's Last Corsairs in a perfect way.............. I'd like to thank everyone who made it happen. Well done guys!