Trooping the Colour 2023 - RAF Brize Norton


With the Kings coronation being a complete washout resulting in a scaled down flypast, it was announced that the flypast planned for the coronation would instead be flown overhead London on June 17th for King Charles III first Trooping the Colour. In total, 70 aircraft flew down the mall and overhead Buckingham Palace in the space of 6 minutes, starting with the rotary elements and finishing with the arguably the most iconic display team in the world, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team The Red Arrows, as they performed a pass in formation with the newest RAF aircraft in the inventory, the Envoy Mk 4. 

As with every year, RAF Brize Norton played their part in celebrating the Kings official birthday, known as Trooping the Colour. Unfortunately, 2023 was the last time that C-130 Hercules' would be involved in the celebrations as they will be retired by June 30th. I find that Brize tends to be the place to go for this event, as most elements pass over on their way back to their home stations. This year was no different, with numerous Eurofighter Typhoons and an Embraer Phenom flying overhead. Unfortunately I couldn't see those aircraft this year due to the weather, but the noise alone was enough! Let's take a closer look at the Brize based aircraft present in the flypasts. 

The first flypast related movement came at around 10:25 when Boeing C-17 Globemaster ZZ177 lifted from Brize Norton as BLACKCAT836. It departed and held to the west of Brize for around half an hour before continuing it's flight to the North sea to find it's spot in the formations. On a slightly unrelated note, ZZ177 was the aircraft tasked with transporting the late Queen Elizabeth II to London from Scotland following her passing in 2022. 

RAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III ZZ177 BLACKCAT836

A400 ZM400 quickly followed the C-17 out to the North sea, departing RAF Brize Norton at 10:30. ZM400 was the first of 22 Atlas C.1s delivered to the RAF. 

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas C.1 ZM400 TARTAN2

There was only one Voyager they could use for such an occasion! ZZ336, known as Vespina, was leading the above Atlas in a formation overhead London. Vespina can be seen here rotating off of runway 25 at Brize Norton. 

RAF Airbus Voyager KC.2 ZZ336 TARTAN1

As I mentioned above, this was a particularly sad occasion for the C-130, not only because it was the last time they would be overhead Buckingham Palace but also because it was their last operational flight before retirement. Their final flight with the RAF will see them fly to Cambridge Airport. ZH870, seen below, was given a sticker to commemorate 56 years of C-130 operations in the UK.

RAF Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules C.4 ZH870 OMEN1

RAF Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules C.4 ZH871 OMEN2

RAF Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules C.4 ZH868 OMEN3

Due to a heat embargo at Brize, following the flypast nothing could get back in. All Brize based assets went into a hold over the south of England. The C-17 and A400 left the hold soon after and started heading to London Heathrow Airport, where they were scheduled to arrive for the RAF Northolt family day.

The C-130s headed north in formation and passed overhead RAF Brize Norton from the south heading north. They arrived into Cardiff Airport not long after. This was my last sighting of the British hercs, and to see and hear them thunder over their homebase one last time was a fitting send off as far as I am concerned. 

The A330 held in the Brize overhead before finally landing at around 15:50. 

One aircraft that departed prior to the flypast aircraft was A400 ZM407, seen here climbing off of runway 25 destined for Hamburg, Germany.  

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas C.1 ZM407 ASCOT4106 

Last years Trooping the Colour event can be found here: Queens Platinum Jubilee - RAF Brize Norton