Jump to content
ARC Discussion Forums

gary1701

Members
  • Content count

    600
  • Joined

  • Last visited

About gary1701

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

Contact Methods

  • Website URL
    http://gary1701.piwigo.com/
  • ICQ
    0

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Stowmarket, Suffolk, UK (Neighbour to the AAC Apache AH1).

Recent Profile Visitors

9,416 profile views
  1. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Thanks gents for the kind words, another Saturday morning trip over today, given the nice weather, although thankfully the heat wave has gone for the time being. Runway 29 today, which is a pain as it means that the sun tends to be up the stern of anything arriving, although it didn't cause too much of a problem to the two inbounds this morning. Nice to see the civil 747's making regular runs in again, a Atlas 747 came in last weekend, so maybe they're back on a timetable. Years ago you would always get a 747 freighter in on a Thursday. The other inbound was expected given it's repeating a pattern from the previous couple of weeks. The RAF tanker base at Brize Norton has been closing the runway overnight for weekend engineering work, so the duty QRA support Voyager/A330 has been moving over too Mildenhall for the weekends. That's it until the next update. Gary
  2. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Gents, Been a while since I added to the thread, so here's a few from this morning. Nice bright morning expected with runway 11 in use, so arrivals into the sun in the morning made a Saturday morning run over worth a punt. I also expected some movement due to a certain high profile visitor to the UK. The HMX-1 VH-60's and MV-22s were working out of RAF Northolt this time rather than Mildenhall but the C-17s were expected to drop into Mildenhall for fuel before heading back with their cargo as Northolt only has a short runway and I doubt could work a fully laden C-17. Sure enough when I got there three C-17s were already on the deck, complete with armed guards, certainly not routine. Bumped into somebody who I knew, 'you've come over for the Qatari C-17 then'...err...no, but tell me more! Sure enough, a Qatari Air Force C-17 was plotting North bound over France, heading our way. Apparently a Qatari VIP delegation was due into Mildenhall this morning. Here she is, callsign 'LHOB244'; Not one of the examples in their 'airliner' type colour scheme. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, never thought that it looked very good on a C-17. Also hung around for 'Reach 285', the first of the positioning flights out of Northolt. Also thought this might be of interest. It shows the well known 'Johns Field/Nook campsite' at the end of runway 11 where you can go and park and watch for a small fee to the farmer. Caravan and camping plots are also available and that trailer at the corner is there for you to photograph over to the runway close up. I do usually use my own step ladder for flexibility though. Gary
  3. Gents, Here's a selection of pics taken today at the RAF 100 years flypast. These were taken towards the start of the run in just South of Ipswich, Suffolk. It required pumping as many sources as possible to try and find the exact route this far North, and quite a bit of guess work. As it turned out the positioning was fine, although the blue skies the UK has had for the last couple of weeks unfortunately deserted us today. Leading off, two Shadows. Two C-130Js. A400 Atlas C-17 and BAe 146. I had to smile when I saw the C-17 was ZZ172. If they're launched that one then they must have been getting desperate, as '172 tends to sit on the ground at Brize Norton for months at a time and rarely flies. It's also the airframe I had a flight on when the C-17 was first introduced to UK service in 2001. A330 Voyager. RAF RC-135, the second of the three that was delivered. RAF E-3 Sentry. 100 Squadron Hawks. Hawk T2s. Tornado GR4s, probably their final ceremonial flypast over London and the palace. This formation consisted of over a third of the remaining airframes. And a type making it's first. Three of the four F-35B's currently in the UK. The Typhoons were to make a aerial 100 from 22 airframes, not all would fit in the viewfinder, and at this stage the formation was still quite loose. Finally, the Reds brought up the rear. Gary
  4. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Gents, Been a while since I added to the thread, so here's a few more. This one will concentrate on the fixed wing residents, namely the KC-135R/T's of the 100th Air Refuelling Wing, and the MC-130P/H's of the 352nd Special Operations Group (now re-designated as a Wing) which have now been replaced by the MC-130J. We'll work roughly in date order. The standard nose art of the 100th ARW, showing the connection back to the 100th Bomb Wing. MC-130P on the overshoot. ...and down the nose. 100th ARW tanker climbing out of runway 29. The unit usually has a minimum of two airframes fitted with the MPRS pods under the wings. Tight circuits onto runway 29. From about 2010/11 the 'cheat' line that was added to the edge of the black on the nose was no longer applied to newly assigned airframes, supposedly as a 'economy' measure! Taxiing back to the usual 100th stands on the Southern side of the airfield after a sortie during the Libyan conflict in 2011. More tight circuits at the 11 end. 'Shadow 01' on the overhead break, presumably the SOG or Sqn boss. MC-130P on finals. Taxiing in South side past some of the other stands. Will leave this one here and do another post on more residents soon. Gary
  5. gary1701

    Coningsby visit.

    Thanks gents, added a few of the Coningsby Tornados below from previous visits. There wasn't many, at most 3 to 4 here for trials work. Now the remainder of the fleet is at RAF Marham. Word around is that the first batch of UK F-35B's will make the trip across the pond for Marham sometime next week. Gary
  6. gary1701

    Coningsby visit.

    Hi Gents, Thanks for the kind comments. For the first question about the markings the answer is unfortunately yes. The Tornados lost theirs quite a few years ago and went to a purely code on the tail, this was a set code specific to that airframe and never changed. The Tornado fleet, at the last count is down to about 28 airframes, all centralised at RAF Marham with 9 and 31 Sqn's, 12 disbanded on Tornados a month or so back. The Tornado out-of-service date is supposedly early 2019, so there's less than a year left. The last Tornado's, which was only about 3/4 with 41 at Coningsby left to join the rest at Marham last year. One was still surviving in full 41 Sqn markings, may still be marked now. The Typhoon fleet has now gone to a repeat of the last three serial numbers on the fin and the majority have lost their sqn markings. With the fleet split between Coningsby and Loosiemouth, plus a rotating detachment in Cyprus for Syrian ops, there is no 'ownership' on the jets for any specific units. The exceptions are that 41 Sqn have kept their markings, as shown above, and also I believe the jets down at Mount Pleasant with 1435 flight carry their markings. Exceptions still exist, and there are a few jets between the two main UK bases that retain their sqn markings, and apparently a few at Lossiemouth have even been reapplied so the long term plan isn't clear. There's only two reasons I can see as to why they have done this, the first and obvious is cost, but that doesn't explain the removal of existing markings, just the non application of new ones. A former RAF guy who I know says that it costs several hundred pounds for a full set of sqn decals, fin and fuselage, but in the scale of things that hardly seems that important. As he says, previously on his old squadron, if they received a jet from elsewhere, first place it went was the paint shop to have any old markings removed and his sqn applied, it was unit pride. The other, which to me makes no logical sense, is intelligence and information being released from, say a downed jet. It's not exactly a secret as to how many jets are detached to operational tasks overseas, or which squadrons are currently on that det. I can understand removing the names under the canopy rails, as although almost certainly irrelevant to whose flying them at that time, giving captors any kind of information, even false is probably to be avoided. The squadron markings surely shouldn't matter, and the RAF has a long history of applying extra artwork on jets when deployed on active duties, but that's all stopped. I could be over thinking it here and this could simply be another example of the silly, mustn't offend PC rubbish that appears to have taken over the UKs - and other western militaries - armed forces in recent years. Overall, it's a massive shame that such a long tradition has ended, although it could reappear at some point again. Gary
  7. gary1701

    Coningsby visit.

    Gents, Not Mildenhall for a change, but a trip up to catch a subject that you would usually expect to see more at Mildenhall rather than RAF Coningsby, where a USAF C-17 was making a first visit earlier this week. The Globemaster came in on Monday but I could only make the trip up on Tuesday to hopefully catch the departure, and a days Typhoon watching as well! I had a ulterior motive as one of the senior guys on board from Charleston is a friend of mine, and I had sent some detailed maps and photos showing where I intended to be to photograph, although obviously we were in the hands of Coningsby ATC, and things went a bit wrong! Early morning saw a practise session by the RAF Typhoon display pilot. If I'd have known before I arrived I would have moved a little more central which would have been better for photography but I had to shoot from where I was, at the South Western corner of the airfield which limited me too a few opportunities. ...and landing after the display. This is believed to be the back up jet allocated to displays this year and carries standard 29 Sqn markings. When the base is working out of the West, you're limited to what angles you can take pics from, so there's going to be a few similar. These two are 41(R) Sqn jets, the RAF's Typhoon trials and evaluation unit. Unlike the rest of the fleet, 41 appear to have retained their sqn markings for now, probably because their jets won't go on the fleet rotation for the detachment deployed in Cyprus for Syria. They've still changed their old WWII style 'EB' codes to the fleet standard last three on the fin. The primary display aircraft this year, although on this day flying a regular training sortie with 29 Sqn. Like the rest of the RAF types, one airframe of each fleet has gained the RAF 100 years corporate style 'logo'. A real shame when you consider what other air arms are still capable of producing (look at the recent Belgian and Canadian efforts) and the significance of the milestone, the worlds first independent air arm on it's 100 years anniversary. A few more regular line jets. The new tranche three jets (like ZK373) have a small 'bump' on the rear upper fuselage which aids in their identification. This is a attachment point for CFTs, although the RAF have apparently shown no interest in acquiring them at the moment. As the Typhoon will take over carriage of the Storm Shadow stand off missile from the Tornado within the year, it may be wise for them to consider this as the only position a Typhoon can carry Storm Shadow is the station where the wing tanks are fitted! Opposite extreme, two older and looking rather worn tranche one airframes. ZK427 is one of the newest tranche three airframes on the fleet, it's still fairly clean. Most of the early tranche one twin sticks are now gone, broken up for parts, I only saw one operating on this day, this is one of the small number of tranche two twin sticks. There are no dual aircraft in tranche three. Shooting across to the runway and the main runway with the ASP and the big guy behind. Besides the anniversary logo jet, only one other specially marked Typhoon remains on the fleet, 41's anniversary jet from a couple of years ago, so probably won't be around like this for much longer. Turning onto runway 07 and pulling into the vertical with a 'performance' departure. I then moved down to the taxiway as the sun went around and the C-17s ETD approached, this Typhoon coming out of the shelters has a exchange pilots name on - 'MAJ D DOCTER'. The C-17 was filed for a quick hop of only a few minutes over to RAF Lakenheath, staying for a few hours before heading home to Charleston. Unfortunately for him, when time to depart came, Lakenheath refused to take him! The 48th FW at Lakenheath was undergoing a 'surge' exercise for a few days this week and was unwilling to close the runway and change the cable configuration for a heavy. Over a hour of urgent comms between the C-17, Coningsby ATC and Lakenheath saw the C-17 go to Mildenhall instead, 90 minutes late. He was expected to come down the taxiway directly in front of me, which can accommodate a C-17 as the Indian example came down here during their detachment a few years ago. Unfortunately, he turned and went up the old cross runway to the mid point instead, ruining that photo chance! Fortunately, rather than just going straight off, he turned and back tracked a little which gave the photo opportunity. When I contacted the guy on the crew I knew the reason was Coningsby didn't want them taxiing over their cables! 'Reach 539' on the back taxi and departure. That was it for Coningsby. Unlike the old days, unless something unusual is going on, it doesn't really have the appeal it used to from a photography point of view, as endless grey Typhoons don't really appeal. I knew the C-17 was departing Mildenhall the following evening and as that's a lot closer, I popped over for the departure, despite the return to more normal grey UK weather. 'Reach 539' heading back to Charleston. Gary
  8. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Hi Gents, Another batch for tonight. Thought I would start with the finale from the 21st SOS as the MH-53 bowed out at Mildenhall in 2007. These guys were good with the enthusiasts as they posted up the route for the final flypast on the various forums and would finish with a run down the runway at Mildenhall, breaking towards the photographers trailer at the end of runway 11. Spot on they were as well, but unfortunately the clouds didn't play ball. There was five aircraft involved, but only four fitted in my viewfinder. Another finale today sees the 56th Rescue Squadron bowing out with their HH-60s at Lakenheath, although this is a transfer rather than a disbandment, they're going to Aviano. If the base is going to gain two F-35 units in addition to the two F-15E outfits (I assume the F-15C/D's of the 493rd will have gone by then) then Lakenheath is going to need all the space it can get. Sticking with the Mildenhall theme, here's one sunny afternoon on a winters day a few years ago when one of Lakenheaths 'Jolly's' came over to the Mildenhall circuit to play. Charleston bird on arrival. Clearing the runway, KC-10 style in January 2013. SOG out of the sun! The week that HMX-1 came to town in May 2011 for a presidential visit and seemed surprised that people pointed cameras at their top secret helicopters, which after all, are never normally filmed! Pleased to get this one, even if it was a few years ago. Finally, for this post another Moose, with the 9/11 nose art. Gary
  9. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Hi Andrew, No worries, please feel free to point out stuff that I as a enthusiast wouldn't know. Here's another batch, we're getting towards the end now, probably another couple of posts worth of material left. I've been saving the Bones up. I haven't been very lucky with these as they often turn up when I can't get over. In reality, there shouldn't be any B-1s turn up at Mildenhall, as the only times they've turned up in the last 10 years or so is when either them or their supporting tanker has broken and they've been forced to divert. 'Rama 81' diverted in while outward bound from the Middle East, heading home in July 2012. The aircraft declared an emergency due to smoke and a possible fire and the guys who saw it arrive say the crew evacuated out on the runway. It wasn't as serious as first thought, although it was still here for a couple of weeks before heading back home. It started to be moved around the stands on the base almost daily and I turned up on a Saturday morning to find it directly opposite Folly Rd on the usual 100th ARW stands. Best position on the base for piccies! Note the mission marks on the nose wheel door. What I gather is fairly common sand discolouration from a lengthy stay in the desert. 'Rama 72' blasting off in February 2014. This again was a Bone that had gone u/s, outbound this time and also staying for a while. The clouds were hit and miss on this one, and I came within seconds of losing him. A nice postscript to this was the email I got from the pilot a few weeks later, after he saw it online, asking if he could have a copy, which was duly sent. Kalitta 747 turning onto 11 on a extremely hot August day in 2013. Amazed I didn't lose this one to heat haze. Missed this one from the earlier E-3 posts. A little experiment with a NATO E-3 in early 2014 that worked out rather well. When I knew this guy was in for circuits for a while (in fact they tend to turn up for hours at a time!), I decided to drive away from the base down the country lanes and try and catch the base turn, NATO E-3 crews are renowned for tight circuits, so it seemed a worthwhile gamble. Nailed him... The sole C-40 assigned to Ramstein. This is why I prefer photographing in the winter, as long as the suns out. Nice low light and no problems with heat haze when on the ground. 2nd January, 2015 and the base was still officially closed for Christmas/New Year when this NATO C-17 made a quick stop over. I wouldn't have gone over if I hadn't have gotten the 'heads up'. This was the last aircraft I photographed here prior to the USAF announcing the bases closure a few days later. Same spot turning onto 29 from 'Alpha', just a couple of weeks later. Last set for this post is from a sequence I shot late on a bank holiday Monday in August 2016. The conditions were kind on a perfect evening when 'Reach 347' came off 29 towards me into the sun. I was cheating a little as I know the driver, who posts on another forum I frequent, and we'd spent the previous afternoon in the pub by the base entrance, so I knew the departure time. He was asked to keep it low, which he did, I wasn't expecting the wing waggle as he came over Johns Field at the departure end! He was also the guy who was the first to take a C-17 through the Mach Loop in Wales last year. Wing rock saying bye, next stop Charleston! Until next time. Gary
  10. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Hi Aaron/all, When I was on Mildenhall during a visit the other year one of the 100th ARW hosts was a Captain, who whilst now a pilot was a former E-3 systems operator (battlefield manager or whatever they call the people down the back of a E-3). Although I obviously don't know anything about USAF career planning, I thought that was a bit of a unusual career change, going from one unrelated role to another, especially as she barely looked out of school! With somebody who had worked E-3s and now flew KC-135Rs, I thought she was the ideal person to ask the exact same question. Her opinion was it came down to cost, and didn't mention any technical issues. What is there, 30 odd E-3B/Cs on the USAF fleet? It did seem strange too me as they didn't seem to have any problems doing all those KC-135s some years ago. The RAF and French both have had E-3s from production with CFM-56s fitted. So I'm still none the wiser as to why the USAF hasn't re-engined as well. I did wonder about this large arrays on the side of the fuselage, but although the RAF examples aren't fitted, the French are. Gary
  11. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Gents, Hot off the press, as in taken four hours ago earlier this morning on this bank holiday Saturday here in the UK. Strange considering the discussion above about RC-135's that this would happen the same week. With good weather over the bank holiday expected I figured I would do a early morning run over the base as with an Easterly wind any arrivals overnight would come into sun, so got the gear and planned a morning trip. Before I set off at around 8:00 I checked the latest planned movements. RC-135 out at 7:00 for a 7 hour sortie down into Europe had already gone so would be back early afternoon. Pretty routine and arriving at that time would not be good for sun angles. The second one in was due out around 08:55...hmm...just under a hours time and it takes me 45 minutes to get there in good traffic. Also, if he takes the underrun at the 11 end there's some good photo opportunities, lot's of 'if's' there but I went for it. As I drove around the base I heard 'Olive 56' call up for taxi, so I gunned it down the other end to 'John's Field', and dutifully paid my £1 parking in the honestly box! Pulled up by the fence, saw a local couple who I knew already there as they put their ladders up, who then shouted, 'you've come over for 'sharks mouth'? It then dawned on me it was the RC-135U with the sharks mouth as mentioned above in the thread that was coming out. I had no idea he was in! Excellent news. Thankfully he used the underrun or we'd have been in the wrong position, although he did turn the wrong way, a left turn towards us on the 180 would have been better. I remembered to get a close up of the SLAR array, which looks like it's changed since I last photographed this bird. Love the sharks mouth. Hung around for the two KC-10's that came in afterwards but that was it, as it wasn't worth waiting for the other '135 to come back. Not too shabby for a quick couple of hours. Gary
  12. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Hi again gents, Returning to a normal post and this one will concentrate on just the one, rather distinctive type - the USAF version of the Osprey, the CV-22. As the base of one of the two forward deployed USAF Special Operations Groups and the withdrawal of their MH-53s in 2007, it seemed inevitable that whilst the 352nd Special Operations Group (now Wing) was based at Mildenhall, CV-22s would eventually arrive at the base. A early deployment of four US based CV-22s arrived in March 2011 for what was publicly billed as a test run prior to the establishment of a squadron here. I did however hear rumours they were also involved in operations in the Middle East and even one that they were part of the Bin Laden raid into Pakistan. Certainly they did deploy forward for a while whilst here but I can't vouch for anything else. I never was able to get over during the 2011 deployment, except on the night they arrived, and it certainly was night! Best I could do... The first permanent examples for the 7th Special Operations Squadron, was a pair that arrived in the spring of 2013. There was a lot of speculation whilst waiting for them to turn up about the types reputation, and one former Marine Osprey driver was quoted as saying 'coming soon to a field near Mildenhall' when they arrived. He was right, but it did take a few months for the first precautionary landing to occur. 11-0057/58 were the first pair in, and it took me until August to get my first shots of one flying; This wasn't made easy as immediately after arriving '58 had gone unserviceable and disappeared for about 4 months before it next flew, so early on the 7th SOS only flew one airframe. We wondered how they would operate, as they took over the old 'dustbowl' used by the MH-53s, which had been resurfaced and extended. Mildenhall PA also stated that the type could only lift to and from certain reinforced surfaces on the airfield, which seemed rather odd when MV-22s were seen supporting the US President elsewhere landing in car parks...grass...etc. However, it looked like they would operate from the main runway when rolling or from the 'Alpha' pad when lifting vertically, which was just in front of their ramp and beside the runway at the 11 end. This was also located pretty well for photos from the fence, ladder and patience permitting. They adopted the 'Knife' call sign for local training and air tests and it soon became apparent that once they'd worked up in daylight most of their ops was going to be at night, alongside the MC-130s from the SOG. That made them quite hard to get in good light in front of the camera, especially as it soon became apparent they had a more than normal chance of ground aborts prior to departing. I next caught one in December 2013, luckily during a daylight air test as he rotated off the pad early afternoon in some nice light. In February/March 2014 I was able to spend a lot of time over at Mildenhall due to having taken redundancy and having a few months free. A couple of evenings I was able to catch a 'Knife' flight of two lift not long before dusk, in doing so catching some excellent light as they lifted towards the sun and camera. By now the 7th SOS was up to 6/7 airframes. First pair. 09-0046 was a oddity, as all the remaining airframes delivered had carried on from 11-0057. It also had a slightly different antenna fit on the upper fuselage. Another pair a week later (actually the same two airframes) This next sequence of the second of the pair lifting is one of my favourite sequences of aviation pics that I've taken, as it just looks so right. I didn't know at the time that I would shortly be working for a UK firm that is owned by one of the two major corporations that co-produce the Osprey. Although the UK operation has no aviation or military connections, there's many images and references to the Osprey on the IT side, and for a company that makes the damn things, their publicity photography is appalling and amateurish. I have offered them free access and use to any of these images several times, but even trying to help such a massive bureaucracy is met with constant obstruction and inertia. 'Knife 77' touching down on the runway, taxiing in for a crew change, then heading back out again. Another one from 2014 with the 'Knife' pulling to the hover over the runway and then air taxiing back to the pad. Not so easy to get nowadays, as they tend to settle in the hover a lot further down the runway and air taxi across further away and settle back on the apron rather than use the closer pad. That pretty much was it for a few years. I wasn't able to get over very much due to the new job (which meant I now had to commute in the opposite direction), the few times I got over and they were due to launch whilst I was there they broke before departure, or I found them working different positions on the airfield and I missed them. This shows the 7th SOS line just prior to dusk one evening with them preparing to launch, but unfortunately it was a after dark departure. Did manage to quickly catch one of the new birds, 12-0063 coming off the pad in September 2015. Marine MV-22's have made a couple of short deployments to Mildenhall to work locally, usually just a pair a few days from the detachments down in the Med. I haven't been able to get them and they seem to have been troubled by serviceability the moment they arrive. During the last formal US Presidential visit the green MV-22s have deployed into Mildenhall but besides seeing them parked one Saturday I haven't been able to get anything. Finally for this post, the last CV-22 I got at Christmas is right back on the first post of this thread. Gary
  13. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Hi again Andrew/gents, Right, I've been having a look through all my images of RC-135 variants going back to the first digital one's I took in 2006. I've edited up some close ups of the two main variants, the RC-135V and W, during their TDY deployments to Mildenhall. Some of these are crops from full frame images so are a little lacking in quality, others are from already close detail shots, only one set is from existing images on this thread. I'll start with the RC-135V RC-135V 64-14841 RC-135V 64-14842 #1 RC-135V 64-14842 #2 Then the RC-135W RC-135W 62-4130 RC-135W 62-4139 RC-135W 62-4138 #1 RC-135W 62-4138 #2 A small sampling I know, but I was trying to use images I haven't already posted. Unless something interesting is going on the 95th RS only normally has a single RC-135 on TDY from Offutt at Mildenhall at any one time, and he might only fly once every few days so they're not as easy to catch as you might think. However looking at that, it initially looked quite clear cut that the V and W models of the RC-135 uses a different SLAR panel on the fuselage, and it was based on the airframe variant. Then I looked at the three pictures that Andrew posted up, the top and bottom are taken by me, but the middle one wasn't, and that's the one that has screwed up the pattern shown above. It's not a RC-135V, as airframe 62-4131 is a RC-135W, and I've checked that at multiple references so it's accurate. Problem is that pic shows a panel configuration from a RC-135V, as in my pics above. I've since gone back and looked over the history of images of this airframe at Airliners.net - a great site for checking how a aircraft has changed over the years. Results below; http://www.airliners.net/search?registrationActual=62-4131&display=card What that tells me is that the panels have changed between 2012 and 2016. The image Andrew has posted shows a 'V' configuration, and that pic is presumably quite old as images from 2016 show it with the usual 'W' configuration. Because RC-135's get around a fair bit they do actually tend to get photographed quite often, yet on A.Net there is no photos of '131 from between 2012 and 2016. Coincidence? Speculative but I would guess the airframe was in for some major work in that time frame and is also when the panels were changed. Next thought that occurred was is this a one off or maybe all 'V' models will adopt the same panel as the 'W's. Sure enough using A.Net I can find other examples of RC-135Vs and also W models having the panels I've photographed above as exclusively 'V' models, but also both models appearing with the configuration I've photographed as the 'W' variant at a later date. Overall, that suggests there is a rolling programme through both variants to change from a older panel configuration to a later one, and I've just happened to photograph one model in one configuration by chance. If that doesn't confuse anybody I'll be amazed, as I've confused myself several times writing it! Gary
  14. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Hi gents, Enjoying reading experiences that others have had. Jeff, you could have told the guy you'd probably worked the boom (you were a boom operator?!) for most of those jets. I know several guys here in the UK who have shot at Luke in the past without any trouble, but that was before the F-35 turned up and it was just F-16s. Maybe that's what's got them a bit on edge. Andrew, your question got me thinking, as although I've been aware of the different external configurations of the SLAR on the various RC-135 variants, I'd never really thought if it was tied into a specific model, or if each individual airframe was slightly different. That sounds like a good research project for me to look into, I'll look into my archives and see what I can turn up. I haven't shot any of the more exotic models, but should have plenty of RC-135U/V and W variants. I can do the U model (we tend to call them U-Boats) now, that's the one that you've pasted in first with the mission markings, there isn't a RC-135R that I'm aware of. Only two RC-135U (Combat Sent) airframes are current from the original three converted, and I have shot both at Mildenhall; RC-135U 64-14847 RC-135U 64-14849 Both aircraft shot at the same location, the 'mound' on the 29 approach, although the first is just before dusk. They look identical to me in configuration. Unfortunately, I haven't got it like this, but aircraft '847 was seen at Mildenhall last year wearing a sharks mouth. http://www.airliners.net/photo/USA-Air-Force/Boeing-RC-135U-739-445B/4324657/L I'll follow up with some of the others once I've looked at them. Gary
  15. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Hi Bee, I wouldn't want to give the impression that Mildenhall is a particularly busy and active airfield, because nowadays it's not. The pics from above are a selection that I've taken from 2006 to date, so I can't say that anybody turning up is going to see all that on a daily basis, as they're not. The level of activity has dropped dramatically even in that time, and unusual visitors are very rare nowadays. Part of that may be because the place is unpopular with transiting crews as already mentioned when there's other alternatives. It may also be that now they are finally starting to make preparations to transfer the 100th ARW to Ramstein and the 352nd SOW to Spangdahlem in Germany and close the base as announced. I, and many others including contractors working on the base have doubts it will actually happen, and the constant putting back of the date is becoming farcical. Certainly the 352nd Special Operations Wing doesn't want to move to Germany, as their ability to train for night and low level work will be massively constrained by the restrictive operating rules over there. At Mildenhall they have low level clearance day and night in the area, a dedicated military air/land training facility just a few minutes flying time away, and a live firing range just a little further on the coast. That won't happen in Germany, where there's already opposition to MC-130's and CV-22s moving in. As for movements, yes we keep track of what's going on a hourly basis, day and night from all the usual sources. Aircraft in tend to be updated via various internet feeds pretty much hourly. For example, below is the situation for visitors about a hour ago, Sunday 29th, 14:00 local. Credit; Touchdown News feed. Noted so far CE01 ERJ-135LR Belgian Air Component 21 Sq arr BAF 614 62-3507 KC-135R no marks arr Cafe 21 63-8013 KC-135R 121 ARW OH ANG arr Cafe 31 57-1427 KC-135R 190 ARW KS ANG arr Reach 894 58-0015 KC-135R no marks AFRC arr Reach 663 58-0058 KC-135R 507 ARW AFRC arr Reach 170 still present 83-0080 KC-10A 60 AMW 62-3537 KC-135R 916 ARW AFRC parked northside 61-2666 NC-135W AFMC 64-14844 OF r RC-135V 55 Wing TDY Must add that much is very unusual for a weekend, in fact even for a weekday. If the weather was decent (grey and overcast today, Spring in the UK!), I might well have jumped in the car for the 45 minute drive over. I'm guessing we may have a tanker rotation down in the desert on at the moment as I have sat over at Mildenhall on a Saturday morning for about four hours and seen nothing move at all. Activity at night? Not so much, as most aircraft transiting will come in early morning after flying overnight. We usually have a log of 'Reach' flights outbound from the US and when they left and destination (from ATC comms), so when sitting there early on, say a Saturday morning I can see from the phone what is heading this way, call sign and approx arrival time. The resident 352nd SOW does most of it's training at night and several evenings a week, the CV-22 and MC-130 lines will be active with aircraft preparing to depart for the evening. If you're lucky you can catch them departing in some nice dusk sunlight. A lot of it depends what you would call interesting or sensitive, to me a RC-135, E-3, CV-22, MC-130 is pretty routine, yet I remember Aaron once saying on here how much he wants to photograph KC-10s, as he's rarely seen them. At McChord they must be rare, at Mildenhall I get bored of the things, think there was five at once in earlier this week. Yet, I'd pay good money for some opportunities with C-17s, as they're rare as gold dust here. I wouldn't say that Mildenhall has many sensitive visitors, or what I would call sensitive. To me, photographing the exterior of, say a RC-135 or even a F-22 close up (don't photograph down the intakes!) isn't compromising anything sensitive, but I would suspect that probably wouldn't be acceptable on the fence at Offutt, or even Langley. In most cases, like Andrews experience with the LSRS P-3, the F-35s at Lakenheath and the rather entertaining visit by HMX-1's helos for the US Presidents visit in May 2011, it's a clash of cultures and units and crews coming over not familiar with what to expect, and suddenly being surprised by what we consider normal. In some cases, I do think that when you've got a unit or crew on extended TDY then they really should be briefed by experienced locals on what to expect, the same for newly transferred in personnel. That may well have prevented the rather silly scenes with HMX-1 in 2011. The usual residents, the 100th ARW and 352nd SOW are fine, know the score, and have a good relationship locally. The F-35 det last year at Lakenheath soon figured it out though. About a week into the deployment they turned up outside the fence at the viewing car park, got a table set up and pulled the patches and souvenirs out! Anybody wise enough to do that will make a fortune over here, and do their PR a lot of good. I just wish I was there that day! One time it did get a bit interesting. Outside of official US Presidential visits, a VC-25 with the President on board and calling AF1 has landed at Mildenhall during the night for a quick fuel turn and departure under dark a couple of times - I doubt they got messed about by Mildenhall! I This was during George H W Bush's presidency, and was I think on the return from visits to the Middle East. As they weren't official visits, and carried out under darkness, there was no publicity and the media never knew they had occurred. We did, it's a bit hard to hide a VC-25 on the ramp at Mildenhall, even in the dark, and they still spoke to ATC under 'AF1'. On one of the visits, a few brave souls (me not included), wandered over for a look and photographed the aircraft sitting there in the early hours. Thankfully, nobody sold them to the press, but one did put them on the web the following morning. I knew the guy so this was first hand info, but he got a visit from the UK police very soon afterwards. They wanted to know how he knew it was there - obviously, not really briefed before they paid him a visit. He was 'requested', but could not be ordered to, take the pictures down, and he did as requested, which I think was the right thing under the circumstances to do. A friend swears that something 'exotic' came into Lakenheath one night, ATC quiet without lights on, and coincidentally at the same time as the main road under the approach was closed for road works. However, he's a bit of a fantasist so I have my doubts as to the accuracy. Hope that helps a bit and anything else by all means fire away. Still got a few more posts in me but will space it out a bit. Maybe do Lakenheath afterwards. Gary
×