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gary1701

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About gary1701

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  • Birthday 08/23/1969

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

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  1. gary1701

    RAF Lakenheath photo thread

    Hi Chris, Sorry bit late in reply. You seem to see most taken between 200 to 300mm for single fast jet types. A friend of mine usually uses a fixed 300. If you haven't got any alternative to the 200-500 in that range then you would probably have to bring it. I think some of those zooms up to 500 are quite heavy so understand why you wouldn't want to bring it. Gary
  2. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Gents, A few more from this morning, I had to miss the weeks action at Lakenheath with all those jets operating in perfect weather, but I did put a run into Mildenhall this morning. I did have my doubts that anything would be operating as we have very strong winds from the South directly across the runway today. If it hadn't been for the USN flights still supporting the Harry Truman in UK coastal waters then it would have been pretty much dead. First up was C-40 'Convoy 6326' arriving and departing back to Oslo. I shot these down at Folly Road even though the base was working runway 11 today as the light down the other end was still bad and I wanted to have a look at the new barbed wire that has been added to the top of the fence since my last visit. Still okay for a step ladder but there's rumours that they may put a new secondary fence in on the other side of the new joggers path that runs just inside this fence. Also a lot of building work is going on at this corner of the base - I suppose there has to be as it's still officially down for closure in a few years time! Moved up to the other end as it was rumoured one of the C-2s from the flat top would be in around midday - bang on time. Same one I photographed last week at Lakenheath, just in better light! One of the Ospreys coming back from a quick air test. Advantage with these is they can obviously depart and land directly into wind. '0057 was the one of the first pair to arrive and the very first one I shot back in 2014. Nice to see they've added the same badge behind the cockpit that the MC-130s normally carry. Then 'Convoy 6302' turned up, this guy really had the right wing down into the crosswind, that was increasing all the time. I couldn't see it from my viewpoint, but after he passed me and landed, he came very close to putting that right wingtip on the runway, according to a couple of guys who saw it. I do like that glossy USN C-130 colour scheme. Not bad for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning. Gary
  3. gary1701

    RAF Lakenheath photo thread

    Hi Chris, No worries and hope it helps. If you post up when you're going to be about I will let you know if there's any unusual exercises or deployments here in the UK. That won't tell specifically if they're doing the Loop or when, but would be more general. Also, have you looked at this site, gives some good info on locations. http://machloop.co.uk/ Gary
  4. gary1701

    RAF Lakenheath photo thread

    Hi Chris, I've never been myself, must be the only UK based military photographer who hasn't! That said, I know enough who do and am familiar with how it works. The 'loop' is supposedly active on any normal weekday when military flying is scheduled, both by the UK and USAF. I wouldn't say that nothing goes through during the weekend, as it does occasionally happen, sometimes when there's a major UK air show it's become the done thing for overseas visitors to make a run through - they can't just do it, overseas visitors have to pre-book well in advance of their scheduled visit. UK military and UK based USAF units have more freedom. But in November you're probably wasting your time on a weekend, as I would doubt anything would go through. The rest of the week is pot luck, you just take your chances as although the UK military enthusiast community is pretty clued up on movements, daily trips to Low Fly Area 7 (LFA7 - Wales, including the Mach Loop), are unpredictable and the guys sitting on the hillside will only normally know what's coming through when something calls up on the LFA7 frequencies with their intentions. You might get lucky with Typhoons, Tornados, Hawks, F-15s are all regulars, C-130s, CV-22s, and even A400's are occasional visitors, but you could also hit a day when nobody is booked in and it's empty, there really is no way of predicting that in advance. A major exercise or deployment usually helps, and I'd be surprised if the current visitors to Lakenheath don't tick the box before going home, but that's just guess work on my part. I'm hearing rumours of another US deployment of F-35s to Lakenheath late October, early November but it's too early to put too much confidence in that. Sorry I can't help more. Gary
  5. gary1701

    RAF Lakenheath photo thread

    Thanks and good point Andrew. Mind you in this case they were airborne again within the hour, apparently filed for Norway. No idea why! I'm sure they'll be back during the deployment. Gary
  6. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Gents, Just to complete the pics from the end of last week this was what I shot at Mildenhall. As soon as I took this it was back across the road to Lakenheath and the F/A-18's. If this hadn't been late, and the Hornets early I wouldn't have missed the first four bugs. Interesting aircraft that I've never seen before, but not worth losing four F models Horrnets for! Italian Navy ATR P-72A MPA. Funny looking thing. It was a fuel stop whilst providing SAR coverage to some Italian EF-2000's departing Keflavik for home. Gary
  7. gary1701

    RAF Lakenheath photo thread

    Hi and thanks. No, its not. Or certainly not in the UK, can't comment elsewhere. In fact this is the first time since the 50th D-Day anniversary in 1994 I think, back then a load off the George Washington came ashore at RNAS Yeovilton for the anniversary flypast. A couple here and there have diverted to the beach during exercises or attended local air shows if working locally, but it's certainly not routine. Lakenheath public affairs and the DoD have publicly announced that both the Hornets and F-22s will be flying locally, presumably with the 48th. Two waves of the transiting Mountain Home F-15Es have already left to go down range, assume the final cell will leave tomorrow, and Lakenheaths 494th can come back home. Gary
  8. gary1701

    RAF Lakenheath photo thread

    Gents, Just caught up on a few more of the locals from the last couple of days. Some Reapers working the circuit on Thursday prior to the navy turning up. Some from the 492nd down by the lights as the sum moved round. Need a pretty fast camera to try this... Gary
  9. gary1701

    RAF Lakenheath photo thread

    Thanks gents. Todays arrivals follow below. The grapevine got the basics right, but screwed up the details. It wasn't 12 Tyndall F-22s out of the US, but 6 Langley birds coming back from the desert to operate in Europe for a while. They did the same last year, same month and wing, but the jets were so worn out at that point that they didn't fly a lot, so hopefully better luck this time. The F/A-18s have already flown a mixed flight this afternoon with the locals, after I left...grrr! 'Tabor 41' flight, in landing order. Kalitta 747 that was only a few minutes behind them bringing the kit. The bugs caught a lot of people out yesterday, not today, it was packed. Could be a interesting couple of weeks, but I won't see any more of them as I have no more time booked. Gary
  10. gary1701

    RAF Lakenheath photo thread

    Gents, Bagged these today, which was a big surprise as I didn't know they were coming until a couple of hours beforehand. USS Harry Truman is due off Portsmouth this weekend to give the guys a run ashore, but CVW-1 flew off eight Super Hornets to Lakenheath early this evening. I have a couple of days off and the weather made a trip worthwhile but I did not know they were coming until I got there. That was the good luck, the bad bit was I was caught between Mildenhall and Lakenheath when they turned up early! I missed the four F models that came in first, but nailed the four E's. Nice of them to bring one of the specials. Couple of reapers jumped in front of the final pair after popping next door to calibrate their cables earlier in the day. Lead guy in the final pair flew a very high and rapid descent, maybe he forgot and thought he was back at the flat top. Finally, the usual Greyhound arrived well after dusk, camera really struggled here! The visitors ramp, not to mention the billeting must be struggling tonight. The 18 Mountain Home F-15Es that were meant to go in yesterday finally made it after dark tonight (tankers broke yesterday). Those guys are going through to the Middle East but they're also expecting 12 Tyndall F-22s late morning tomorrow (planning on being there, weather looking good) which are expected to stay for a while and play with the locals and the Hornets next week. They were also meant to get California ANG F-15s in the next day or two as well, but now apparently going direct to the Ukraine. Gary
  11. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Gents, As requested, here's a link to the new thread. Gary
  12. gary1701

    RAF Lakenheath photo thread

    Hi gents, As previously said or threatened, depending on your point of view here's the start of the RAF Lakenheath photo thread. Same format, as I'll be going back through the archives so again there will be repeats from previous years. It won't be as varied as the Mildenhall thread, as obviously there isn't the variety of types that go into Lakenheath compared to neighbouring Mildenhall. As it generally isn't open at weekends, I don't go there as frequently as Mildenhall so many of the visitors I tend to miss. Visiting or transiting deployments have picked up in recent years, with the general increase in US fast jet units to Europe rather than keeping large numbers permanently here. As I right this on a Saturday, the previous 24 hours have seen the ANG F-15 deployment to Eastern Europe leave Lakenheath for home after arriving earlier in the week, and also another delivery of Saudi F-15SA's arrived last night on their way to their new home. Unfortunately and despite knowing about them I can't get over during the week unless I take some time off. Lakenheath is home to the 48th Fighter Wing, currently operating two squadrons of F-15E's, the 492nd and 494th FS's and the 493rd on the F-15C/D. Overall strength is about 75 aircraft, the 493rd has 18 C and 2 D models, the E's are split between the remaining two squadrons. The HH-60's with the 56th Rescue Squadron moved to Aviano earlier this year. Current future plans appear to be to put in two F-35A sqn's and retain the two F-15E squadrons, no mention has been made of the 493rd's long term future and the squadron has been scheduled for disbandment at least once in recent years, only to see it cancelled. Assuming the 493rd closes as a F-15 squadron either before or when the F-35A moves in Lakenheath will then be restored to a four squadron fast jet wing, as it was back when the F-111F was units mount. From a public viewing point of view Lakenheath is not as good as Mildenhall, but still reasonably accessible, especially down at the Eastern end and runway 24. Lakenheath still retains an official viewing car park on the North Eastern corner, unlike Mildenhall whose similar facility was closed many years ago. As photographers prefer the Southern side for sunlight, we tend to assemble by the road side and a entrance to the local Thetford Forest on the South Eastern side of the base and the approach into 24 is clear and open for viewing and photography from here. We've been quite lucky with base CO's in recent years, and certainly a CO like Colonel Novotny who was commander from 2014 -2016 was very onside with the local enthusiasts and engaged with them on social media. His finale flight leading a four ship into the Mach Loop at low level was quite a event, just wish I could have been there! I thought I would start with a very specific batch of pics. The 493rd 'Grim Reapers' have (I believe - if I'm wrong am open to correction!) the highest number of F-15's carrying kill markings amongst the remaining F-15C units in the USAF/ANG. Although the majority of these were achieved with other units in 1991 when Lakenheath was still a F-111 outfit, the jets still, for the most part retain the green stars, although on occasion they do disappear after repainting. So I thought I would go through these to start with, as I have photographed every extant airframe at some point. Just keep in mind that angles and different photo opportunities are not as good at Lakenheath, so they tend to be very similar. 84-0010, 1 Su-22, 1991, when with 53rd TFS. 84-0014, 1 Su-22, 1991, when with 53rd TFS. Taken in 2009, this jet was reassigned to the California ANG when they converted to F-15s and was initially marked as their 'Wing' jet. It is the only 493rd FS jet with a victory to it's name to have 'escaped' to date. 84-0015, PC-9, 1991, when with 53rd TFS. No 2 jet in this late sun pairs approach. 84-0019, 2x Su-25, 1991, when with 53rd TFS. 84-0027, 1 MiG 23 & 1 Mirage F1, 1991, when with 53rd TFS The jet has been the long term 493rd FS marked Squadron jet but that has recently changed, and I haven't caught up yet. Close up shot. On several occasions when shot in winter light at this angle, '027 seemed to have a different 'glint' to all the other birds. I have wondered as being the squadron marked jet, it was somehow cared for differently? The remaining two jets scored their victories when with the 493rd over Serbian MiG-29s during Allied Force in 1999. The fourth victory was achieved by '0169, which was lost in a fatal double crash in Scotland in 2001. 86-0156, 2x MiG 29, 1999, when with the 493rd FS. I do have some extremely good close up's of this jet, taken at RAF Coningsby, but will save them for when/if I do a thread from there. 86-0159, 1MiG 29, 1999 With the 493rd FS. Hope that's okay to kick this thread off. The last couple showing '159 were taken during the traditional Christmas/New Year break flying the 48th usually flies, although they entirely stood down for the holiday in 2017, much to our disappointment, as spending a Christmas holiday day over on the approach into Lakenheath is something of a tradition. The locals gathering at dawn for some flying over Christmas. Gary
  13. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Hi again gents. Many thanks for the kind words. I still intend to add to the thread as and when able to do so, but it will mostly be new material when able to shoot it. My trips over are a lot more infrequent than they used to be due to a change in work and more family pressures. As the quoted dates show, the vast majority of the above were shot in the time period of 2006-2014, when my unusual annualized hours made it easy for me to go over quite frequently, not to mention working a lot closer than I do now. What I can do is do another thread for other locations that I frequently visit, Lakenheath is the obvious one as although many of these have been posted up in the past, most will have gone due to the photobucket debacle. The problem with Lakenheath is that unlike Mildenhall, you don't have the variety of types, it's mostly F-15s from various angles. But if I give it a little while so as not to clog up the board with threads, I'll do a best of Lakenheath soon. If you guys don't mind some non-US stuff I could also do some RAF stations like Coningsby, or even the local Army Apaches at Wattisham. Gary
  14. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Hi and thanks, If it's the older MC-130P's with the smaller nose as in the 'Son Tay Raider', then I believe - and the real experts, please correct me if I'm wrong - it's a carry over from when the model was fitted with the Fulton recovery system on the nose. If not familiar, details below; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fulton_surface-to-air_recovery_system It's used by James Bond at the end of the film 'Thunderball', although the aircraft deploying it is a B-17. The large radome on the MC-130H model is for the AN/APQ-170 radar. What the capabilities of that clearly isn't in the public domain, but given the types role is low level night infiltration and recovery in enemy territory, I would guess it's a terrain avoidance/following radar. Anybody has anything further to add, please, fire away. Gary
  15. gary1701

    RAF Mildenhall photo thread

    Hi Gents, Not new material this time, but going back to my archives and continuing on there. I'd left it with my first post on the usual residents, concentrating on the 100th ARW, so will carry on here, looking mostly at the MC-130s. The ancient MC-130P's were flown by the 67th SOS, now the MC-130J operator. This example is pulling off a approach to runway 11. One of their party pieces whilst doing circuit work is to make an approach to the wrong end, then pull off to the South and make a tight circuit to the other end. Makes for some interesting pics if correctly judged. Routine profile shot of a MC-130P making a normal approach to 29. I'm pretty sure this guy saw a couple of us standing in a stubble field late one Friday afternoon during circuit practise as he pulled it off the departure end and immediately rolled it towards us whilst directly opposite. If he did, nice touch. The 'Son Tay Raider' flying circuits to runway 11. Unfortunately the badge honouring the aircrafts role in Operation Ivory Coast in 1970 is on the other side of the fuselage! Not Mildenhall, but a Duxford American Air Day when the aircraft was made available for public inspection, it shows the badge the aircraft wore in it's later days at Mildenhall. I believe when the MC-130P was retired from Mildenhall and the USAF this aircraft was rightly preserved and went on public display. MC-130H from the 7th SOS coming out for a runway 11 departure. The badge has now started to appear on the current MC-130J and CV-22s. A MC-130P coming out at the same spot just prior to dusk. The 352nd is mostly a nocturnal force, and usually only flies basic currency during the daylight. Most of the units UK based training takes place after dusk. Note the C-130H tail to the left with newly applied Afghanistan Air Force markings. One of two making the delivery flight a few days before I took this, and this was a divert in due to a oil leak. The sign of things to come. Newly delivered MC-130J and CV-22 parked together. I assume this was for some VIP event as that is not their normal parking location, and the two types are actually based on opposite side of the airfield. In September 2013, 64-14854 was the oldest MC-130P on the base (but still newer than all the KC-135s!) and by then the first J models had appeared and the types days were numbered. The first of the new breed that arrived, MC-130J Commando II 10-5714, shortly after being delivered. The 67th uses the 'Strix' callsign during routine training from Mildenhall on the MC-130J, but adopts others during deployments or multi ship flights. Here Kale' flight taxies onto runway 11 for another evening departure. Causing a traffic jam, not a common occurrence at Mildenhall given how quiet the place normally is. Taxiing past Folly Rd for a morning departure from runway 29. ...and catching some crosswind during circuits. Mildenhall visitors and transit ramp on the first day open after thanksgiving...even emptier than normal! That's it for this update. The archives are now pretty much bare, as although I have loads more of the regulars I think putting up endless shots of the same types from the same angles will become boring, so I will probably update this thread as and when I go over and catch something new, as in the previous few posts. Gary
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