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About gary1701

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    Step away from the computer!
  • Birthday 08/23/1969

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    Stowmarket, Suffolk, UK (Neighbour to the AAC Apache AH1).

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  1. Hi gents, It's been far too long since I posted any pics but haven't been anywhere for the last couple of months. Yesterday I got myself a invite onto the Army Air Corps Apache base just up the road from me at Wattisham. The base is celebrating it's 80th anniversary this year as it opened in 1939, just in time for war and has been used by the RAF, USAAF, RAF again and now the AAC. It has a number of noteworthy achievements. Initially a RAF Blenheim base the very first RAF bombing raid on Germany was flown from here, just 24 hours after war was declared. Given over to the 8th Air Force, it then hosted the final 8th AF group to operate the P-51, the 479th. Robin Olds was a sqn CO at Wattisham. Post war it became a RAF fighter station. It was the final RAF base to operate F-4s, which were retired in 1992, the base going to the Army the following year and is now home to all AAC frontline Apache units. I wandered up to the fence in the morning prior to the afternoon event, as I knew that the Mildenhall CV-22 was due in early. Sure enough, bang on time, although not quite as good an angle as I can usually get at Mildenhall. Nice of the 7th SOS to send the aircraft that carries the 'Air Commando' heritage markings. Some of the warbirds arriving. The only airworthy Blenheim was nice given the types association with Wattisham. Onto the base for the afternoon. I went and had a chat with the 7th SOS guys at the CV-22 as I was curious as to the reason for the names that have now been allocated to their Ospreys. Apparently aircraft 08-0050 is 'patches' as it carries battle damage patches from small arms fire when away on TDY in Africa. 11-0057 is named 'Zeus' as it's been stuck by lightning. Close up of the markings on '065. Despite being their newest, it has already passed 'Zeus' in lightning strikes! Being a private, base personnel and guests show, photography was a lot more relaxed and easier than at a full public event. It was a mixture of service displays, private and historic display teams and whatever military aircraft in the area that could be persuaded to do a flypast. A pair from nearby Lakenheath were the first pulled in for a flyby. RAF did the full Chinook demo. A new four ship of warbirds has recently formed in the UK similar to the old 'Breitling' team, called the 'Ultimate Fighters', and they were also pulled across into static after landing. It takes three times the bodies to push a P-47 compared to the other fighters! Never been this close to a running P-47 before. Another type associated with Wattisham. Another modern frontliner pulled in for a flypast. If the cold war had continued, the RAF's plan was that Wattisham would have been the first frontline base in the UK to receive the Typhoon. Obviously, the residents finished off with the AAC Apache display crew, complete with pyro's. Hope that little lot are worth a viewing as it's been a barren couple of months. Gary
  2. Gents, A selection from Tuesday at Duxford with the big gathering of C-47/DC-3s prior to the mass drop over Normandy yesterday. Duxford planned special events on the Tuesday and Wednesday but the weather on Tuesday was terrible with a low cloud base and rain that spread in during the afternoon - the first rain East Anglia has had in weeks! The planned practise para drop by up to 200 of the parachutists using the WW11 style chutes had to be cancelled because the wind was out of limits although they did board the Dakotas and launch prior to the cancellation. These are the best I could do given the conditions. Gary
  3. Thanks again guys, I believe the 'Makos' head back on Monday, although there was some rumour that at least part of the deployment would stay to take part in the D-Day events. The 93rd FS lineage goes back to a C-47 unit active over Normandy in June 1944, so there may be something in that but not sure. As for Lakenheath and the F-35, the official date is 2021 for the first permanent assignment to the base and the 48th FW. There is a lot of building work going on as new infrastructure is being generated for them. Still not sure as to what the long term line up of the 48th FW is going to be. The best guess, and is what has unofficially been mentioned previously is that the two F-15E squadrons will remain with two F-35 units, increasing the sqn count to four, the same as when the F-111F was stationed here. Everybody assumed the F-15C/Ds of the 493rd FS would depart and the squadron would become one of the new F-35 units. However, I know one of the UK engineers involved in the work, who also happens to be a local enthusiast and he recently told me that the planning assumption is that the F-15C/Ds would remain as well. I can't see how they would operate five squadrons of fast jets, certainly their flying operations and ATC struggle with the load now (just ask the crews of the last Mountain Home F-15Es to transit through on their way home a few weeks ago what they thought of Lakenheath/Mildenhall ops - it's probably not repeatable!) It's just nice that in the last couple of years we've seen a big increase in deployments into Lakenheath from US units. Last year there was Spangdahlem F-16s early on, followed by some of the ANG F-15s that were also elsewhere in Europe. We had the big one in October with USN F/A-18 and Langley F-22s, plus lots of transits. So there's plenty going on and the base is still relatively free and easy to photograph around. A few years ago they would not have been happy with stepladders put next to the fence to photograph over the fence, but nowadays they don't seem to mind as long as you don't interfere with the fence itself. Gary
  4. Many thanks guys but my shots are nothing compared to what others have shot in the last two days. The base has stayed on runway 06 so all departures, including the first wave of the morning with the sun lower and further behind. Combine that with the 'Mako's really playing to the camera - it's hard to miss that number of cars and people at the end of the runway and I'm sure the locals have tipped them off - then the shots some of the guys have got on Tuesday and Wednesday have been spectacular. Here's a couple of sets taken by other locals, I should have booked some more time off... https://www.fightercontrol.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=175839 https://www.fightercontrol.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=175820 Gary
  5. Gents, A post showing todays little trip out to one of my usual haunts, but not for the locals as the 93rd FS have brought a dozen of their block 30 F-16s over from Homestead for a couple of weeks ACM training with the locals and RAF Typhoons. These guys are now on their second week here and today was the first day of good weather, although they flew last week the conditions were horrible, so I booked a days leave to go and have a look. Good weather and sunshine were forecast for the first part of this week which was good, but also a Easterly wind which supposedly would have had them operating on runway 06 and taking off towards our usual spot at the Eastern end of the runway. I made a early start, getting there for about 7 AM, I wasn't the first! South; North back towards the 24 approach, and this was before it got busy. I was very surprised to see the EOR guys at the 24 end and the first flight taxiing to this end rather than 06, but winds were calm and they do prefer to work 24, especially when Mildenhall is on 11. Only one resident sqn (the 492nd) is at home, although a few 493rd jets also remain, so about 10 F-15s went out with 8 of the F-16s. Last week they were stripped, but today the tanks were back on the F-16s, although they still came back within the hour. The wind picked up and I was hoping they wouldn't make the runway change until after the first wave recovered and luckily I guessed right. Most visiting units on TDY at Lakenheath don't do circuits unless they have to, the 'Makos' didn't mind. The 48th now have three F-15s, one from each sqn marked for the Normandy anniversary, and all three are currently on the base but only the 492nd are regularly flying. Nice to get it and the two circuits were a bonus. The 'Makos' two birds marked for the 482nd FW and the 93rd FS. So by late morning they were on the deck and the second wave was awaited. The expected runway change was made and we were then in the hands of the drivers to keep at least some low on departure and hopefully bank right as they went past. A couple of 'Makos' caught on. A big hand goes to the 492nd driver of the anniversary jet in the second wave for knowing exactly what the boys wanted and intentionally rolling it over as he went past. Not so good in a high sun, would have been spectacular in some low winter light, but nice nonetheless. Hope that little lot is okay. Gary
  6. Hi gents, Thanks for the info guys, and pleased that I have taken the pic - badly - of a bird that you've flown in. Somebody at Mildenhall with more experience of the local scene than me said that this was the last USN P-3 deployment but that these P-3's were heading both out to deployment and also heading home. So it looks like there's a little time to go. Gary
  7. One of three P-3s that transited through Mildenhall this weekend - unfortunately heat haze is already becoming a problem, even in March. Gary
  8. Hi gents, Good point about needing to qualify on the basket on the boom, that never occurred to me. Wednesday was a funny day for tankers, as it sounded like the 100th was refuelling quite a few non-US aircraft. Whilst I was sitting over at Lakenheath listening to the radio, one 'Quid' callsign who was heading back in was suddenly re-tasked to turn around and go out and refuel another type, which surprised the crew who said they only had 5k of fuel available to off load. When they asked what the receiver was they were told it was a RC-135, which was also odd as both TDY RC's were on the ground at Mildenhall and hadn't moved all day - then I remembered the RAF operates RC-135s now. A couple more from Wednesday, I managed to clean up a couple of the MC-130Js streaming out on there first departure as well as another of them turning in the circuit. Gary
  9. Hi gents, Another update from yesterday. I actually booked a day to go to Lakenheath and see if the dedications to the crew of 'Mi Amigo' from last weeks Sheffield memorial were still on the 494th FS jets, but no such luck and it looks like they had been removed pretty quick. With Lakenheath quiet, two out of three sqn's are away I actually more time at Mildenhall. With another day or clear skies I moved back to Mildenhall mid afternoon in the hope that the Special Ops guys would launch before dusk for their usual night time work. They responded to the challenge with both MC-130Js and CV-22s launching, although they nearly left it too late. The CV-22s of the 7th SOS had unusually been quite active during the day, with two pairs out prior to the night sorties, that's certainly the best sortie rate for a single day that I've seen, perhaps they're getting better. Unfortunately, they don't seem to use the old 'Alpha' pad much nowadays that was just across the runway from the gate that you could shoot their departures from. 'Knife 73' flight here departed on the main runway, which is still okay, but not as good as the pad. '051, the second aircraft in the flight still carries a rudder in the USMC MV-22 grey, one of two like this at Mildenhall. Regular 'Quid' flight from the 100th ARW rolling out and turning past the gate. It still carries partial 22nd ARW marks but is now on the bloody hundredths strength. Hope that don't change the serial number on this one! I was rather surprised to see the basket and hose fit on the boom, when the jet is a MPRS bird with the pods on the wings - any idea why that would be necessary? Finally, right at sunset a three ship of MC-130Js from the 67th SOS taxied down the far end and departed with minimal spacing. The light was pretty much gone then to try and get them normally, but then when they went round, landed again at minimal spacing and taxied straight back down the other end I had an idea. I quickly drove down a couple of country lanes, pointed back towards the approach at the departure end and waited for them to come out again, hoping they would repeat the performance - worked pretty well; 'Strix 61' flight on the climb. And a final one. A bit quiet but not too bad. Gary
  10. Gents, Here you go, what promised to be quite good ended up being pretty mundane actually. Only eight of the jets launched (all 494th FS) came back after local sorties, and the only circuit of the morning was the guy who screwed his approach up. All the 492nd went South to the TLP exercise in Spain, including 97-0219, which was the No2 jet of the first flight despatched. It's going to a bit quiet for a while around here as now both the 492nd and 493rd have the majority of their squadrons deployed, leaving just the 494th here in strength. Any idea why the near side tank is so glossy? WSO giving the sign to the camera, can't remember what they call it. Bit of a shame as like the day at Mildenhall a fortnight ago, it promised much and didn't deliver. Rumour is that the second one of the trio is going to come out of the paint shop in silver! Gary
  11. I'm afraid that it's currently inbound Albacete in Spain for TLP. Was quite chuffed about a hour ago when it taxied out as the No 2 jet of the first flight of the day. Then I saw the damn baggage pods and realised it wasn't coming back! Got it on departure but a landing shot would have been so much better. Bit of local activity going on so will have something later. Gary
  12. Hi, Many years of watching and photographing the 48th at Lakenheath and I've probably seen them operate without first the LANTIRN and now SNIPER pod(s) perhaps half a dozen times, and that's always been done completely clean, no tanks, pylons or even CFT's. They always look fresh out of the paint shop when seen in that condition. All normal training sorties, let alone actual combat flights always carry the twin pods. Gary
  13. Gents, I'm gonna have a go at getting some pics of this jet on Friday, weather is meant to be clear all day and I've booked myself a day off work. All they've got to do now is fly the damn thing on a routine op on Friday morning. Given my usual luck with planned photo trips we all know how this is likely to go! Gary
  14. Hi again Bee, Found out a little more. That KC-135 came from Altus and operated with the 100th at Mildenhall for a while, late last year in those markings before being remarked for the 100th. It was correctly marked as 58-0113 whilst in Altus markings, so it's Mildenhall that has screwed up. It's been noticed and discussed on one of our UK enthusiast forums; this image has been posted showing it still in Altus marks in October. https://flic.kr/p/2bEJCmM What I hadn't noticed, until it was pointed out was that which sequence of numbers is shown varies on the type of aircraft, especially on the nose. An example given was that C-5 and B-52 numbers on the nose don't show last four as most other types because some of the numbers are identical, just different fiscal years, so they use the last three, and second number from FY on the nose. On the tail they still use the last five, like the KC-135s above. I gather there's other exceptions as well. If it gets complicated, then there's a higher chance that even your own people don't understand it. The KC-135 is pretty understandable, but have a look at this. First pic below is a RAF Typhoon from 3(F) Sqn at RAF Coningsby during the first couple of years of Typhoon operations. Note 3 Sqn's form of coding 'QO' and then the dash and airframe specific code. This is a standard marked jet from those early days. So how did this happen? Also, and I can't find a pic at the moment, but I know I did shoot it, there was another at the same time with the dash in the wrong place. Notice what's wrong with this pair? The near jet has the wrong sided decal for the 3 Sqn shield on the fin. It's facing the wrong way, took them over a year to change it! Before somebody tells me, I realise that both the USAF and RAF have better things to do than worry about the markings on their planes, but it's still amusing when it goes wrong! Gary
  15. Hi, Don't think it's flown yet. It's 97-0219 and I would guess knowing what usually happens, the moment it taxies out at Lakenheath word will go out and everybody will descend on the place. I'm gonna struggle though as I'm not going to be able to get over on a week day for the foreseeable future. Gary
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