Araxos, Greece

On 17 October 2014 the Hellenic Air Force witnessed an event titled 'End of an Era', held at Araxos AFB. The aforementioned title comes from the fact that these were indeed, the world's last operational A-7 Corsair II's, and it was befitting that a retirement ceremony be held to mark the occasion. Like so many air forces whom have made sacrifices over the last few years, the HAF was required to retire its remaining fleet of A-7's due to economic hardship and airframe fatigue.

The introduction of the A-7 in HAF inventory induced the cutting edge technology of that period, both as a flight machine and as a weapon system. The A-7 was the first aircraft of the HAF with a head-up-display, advanced inertial navigation system and tactical data computer.

Thus the A-7 became an extremely accurate and effective bomber, capable of attacking targets of all kinds. 336Sq was to be the last Squadron flying the A-7. It had operated for 21 years with the A/TA-7, flying some 53 thousand sorties and logging 60 thousand flight hours.

At the premises of 336Sqn we were greeted by the sun rising over the hills in the distance, casting atmospheric and soft light over the already retired A-7's which were in the bone-yard. Although this was the first photographic moment of the visit, it concludes this photographic report bidding farewell and sending the A-7 into aviation history. This memory will stay with me for some time to come. The bone-yard was an eerie place which was emphasised by a slight mist forming, gradual changing light and shadow, and silence.

On 17 October 2014 the retirement ceremony was held. During the ceremony a specially painted A-7 featuring the emblems of all HAF Squadrons to fly the aircraft was unveiled. This was swiftly followed by a small display featuring the Zues Demonstration Team, Daedalus, and a formation flypast of F4, F-16 and Mirage 2000.

The last of the A-7's were '154477', '156753', and '156767'. On the day F-16's, Embraer and T6 aircraft were also active.

The finale was provided by an impressive airfield attack by none other than the last of the Corsairs - a wonderful sight and sound that I will remember for years to come. It was indeed, an End of an Era.

An unreserved thank you and congratulations goes to the Hellenic Air Force for organising a very successful event. 

Moving to the designated 'live area' beside the taxi and runway the opportunities for photography would simply be stunning. From this vantage point we photographed the final operational A-7's during taxi, takeoff and landing.

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