This week marked the final operational flight of the Harrier, Britain's extraordinary jump jet. The coalition government's defence cuts have consigned this iconic jet to history.
Growing up in the Seventies, I was amazed by the Harrier. It showed that Britain could still produce stunning technology. But it was the 1982 Falklands war that gave the aircraft a place in the nation's hearts. As I wrote in my blogpost marking the 25th anniversary of the Falklands war:
"The sight of Harrier jump jets screaming into the mist captured the imagination of the British people. We weren't foolish enough to think this was a re-run of 1940 - Britain would have survived defeat, although our pride would have suffered badly - but the Harrier briefly became a latter-day Spitfire in the nation's heart."
The Harriers played a magnificent role in supporting the British campaign to recapture the Falklands, acting as fighter and ground attack aircraft. They scored 22 victories, and only two were lost (one with the loss of a relative of a school friend of mine).
The Falklands war was one of the most bizarre episodes in modern British history. Without the Harrier, Britain would probably have lost the conflict.