Was it a bird, was it a plane? No it was a superfast RAF Tornado fighter jet that thundered over Lurgan yesterday and today.
Piloted by Lurgan man RAF Group Captain Harvey Smyth, the jet flew over the town so fast people were left bewildered as to what it was.
And locals couldn’t believe their ears either as the jet swooped very low the noise impact was phenomenal.
The Tornado was flown in to Portrush Air Show to mark this years ‘Air Waves Portrush 2015’ air-show, however Group Captain Smyth couldn’t resist taking a tour over his home patch during his two day visit home.
Group Captain Harvey Smyth OBE DFC ADC MA RAF Station Commander Royal Air Force Marham Group was born and educated in Lurgan and joined the Royal Air Force via the RAF Sixth Form Scholarship Scheme in 1991.
After completion of fast-jet flying training in 1995, he was posted to the Harrier Force and thereafter embarked upon a 15-year front line flying career as a Harrier pilot, serving on every RAF Harrier sqn and on all three Royal Navy aircraft carriers.
As a pilot, Smyth has extensive operational experience having flown combat missions from both land bases and aircraft carriers, in multiple theatres, including: Bosnia; Kosovo; Serbia; Iraq; and Afghanistan. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 2003 for his efforts during Scud-hunting and Close Air Support operations in Iraq’s Western Desert, and was appointed OBE in 2011 after his command of No. IV(Army Co-operation) Sqn.
From a staff perspective, Smyth has completed a desk officer tour at the Air Warfare Centre and 2 separate tours in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme, the first as the Requirements Manager, wherein he worked on both sides of the Atlantic, and latterly as the UK’s National Deputy based in Washington DC, where he was at the forefront of bringing the first British F-35 Lightnings into service, and oversaw the start of pilot and engineer training for the RN and RAF.
In the autumn of 2013, Smyth retrained as a pilot on the Tornado GR4 and became the Station Commander of RAF Marham. RAF Marham is not only the RAF’s sole frontline Tornado GR4 base and fully committed to operations in the Middle East, but is also the future home of the F-35 Lightning Force.