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RAF Mildenhall photo thread

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I thought I would share the results of a photography trip over to RAF Mildenhall on the 28th which was bright and clear, although bitterly cold all day. Normally I would do the two days that the 48th FW fly at Lakenheath in between Christmas and New Year but this year they closed for the full holiday. Mildenhall was open but I wasn't expecting much to happen, and the Saturday the week before Christmas I went over for a morning and nothing moved in four hours. Expectations were low, but I was pleasantly surprised.


Having got there around 9ish I could already hear engines running Southside, which would usually be a 100th tanker, so at least a tanker would taxi out, which was better than my previous trip. I was very surprised when the RC-135W below came down the taxiway, as they usually go out very early before dawn, and even then only once every couple of days. Nowadays they park whatever RC-135s are on TDY on stands that can't be seen from the fence, and I couldn't make out his call sign on the box before he came down so that was a pleasant surprise.








...and rolling, he didn't take a tanker with him so it looked like it was going to be a short one rather one of the 12 hour flights they often do.




Coming off opposite end, a resident MC-130J, who wanted to do some radar and visual pattern work, but was frustrated because the Lakenheath radar kept going down, so after some visual circuits gave up and landed.




KC-10 arriving from McGuire on the overnight regular US to Mildenhall, to Ramstein, back to Mildenhall and then US weekly run.




The main gate and vehicle check building behind is where less than a week before somebody rammed through the gate got onto the airfield and was eventually apprehended down the other end on the Osprey ramp. He was lucky in that he was fired upon but escaped injury. He was sent to psychiatric care according to a friend of mine who works in that field.




KC-10 down, this was a little different to the last one I saw land here that was 'bounced' down the runway in a cloud of tire smoke. Never seen a heavy put down like that before.




Then I thought I would pop down the other end and see if there was any activity on the Osprey ramp, as sometimes early afternoon they do a quick air test, which they had done the day before. I was driving around the other end when I heard 'Knife 79' taxi to the Alpha ramp. Instant panic so I gunned it down the end of the lane which over looks the ramp and pad, with him already in the hover but managed to catch his departure.






'Knife 79' is their air test call sign so I knew he wouldn't be out long, and he finished with a fast(ish) run across the field and break.




I thought that would probably be it, given it wasn't long to dusk when I saw that the RC-135 was inbound over Holland, five hours is a very short flight by their standards. So back down the other end in golden hour and he even put in a circuit which was nice.








The 100th ARW have some smart new engine covers but I can't help think that if the move to Germany and closure of Mildenhall does ever go ahead as planned (they keep putting it off, now 2024 apparently), they'll have to get rid of these, although I suspect the unit would be re-designated if it did move to Ramstein.




Not bad for a day over Christmas.





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Hi again Gents,


Here's a few more from a run over this morning, on a bright but bitterly cold day. I was hoping to catch the C-5M that had gone in yesterday depart this morning. I did...kind of anyway...


First customer was the only other transit on the base, a MacDill '135 that came off early and with the base working runway 11 due to Easterlies it meant catching him on climb out.






Then the C-5M came out. It's been a decade or so since I photographed a C-5 taking off of any variant, so was hoping he would keep it low and rotate late...wrong...looks like those new engines are pretty good with him airborne ridiculously early.


Long zoom.




High by the time he reaches me.




Rather disappointing that, so went down the other end to get the usual weekend KC-10 coming in from the US. At least I finally got one with MPRS pods fitted.








Thought I would show this one, it shows the trailer parked by the fence in the farmers viewing area that exists at the 11 end of Mildenhall's runway. Note the guys on top and the CV-22's on the Osprey ramp beyond. I rarely use it as it's too close for arriving aircraft but it does have it's uses.




Not taken yesterday, but a close up from the trailer of the side mounted .50 on a Lakenheath HH-60 while doing some circuit practise at Mildenhall a year or so ago.





Edited by gary1701
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Good stuff.   Just a suggestion - you might want to just keep adding to this thread.  That way all your great pics will be in one place.  Otherwise, stuff tends to get buried over time.


Regardless, thanks again for taking the time to post these. 

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17 hours ago, 11bee said:

Good stuff.   Just a suggestion - you might want to just keep adding to this thread.  That way all your great pics will be in one place.  Otherwise, stuff tends to get buried over time.


Regardless, thanks again for taking the time to post these. 


Hi there and thanks. It's funny you say that but the exact same thought occurred to me this morning just before I read the new posts, we think alike. I've changed the title of the thread to avoid confusion and will add to this thread when able. I don't get over to Mildenhall that often and it can be several months between visits so it may be a while. I suppose I could go into the archives and add some of the older stuff every now and again, especially as most of the older posts will have been messed up by photobucket.



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Stuck at home away from work due to snow so with some time on my hand I thought I would find a few from the archives. These have been up before, probably years ago but most of my pics were done via photobucket and I'm not paying that fee to free up my old links so will do some from scratch.


I thought I would start with AC-130's. Although I was never lucky enough to get any of the older variants coming through I have caught the AC-130U's a few times when they have transited through Mildenhall, on their way to and from theatre. In 2011 a couple were deployed here during the Libyan campaign, flying a mixture of local training sorties and also some flights down into the Med. Ironically Mildenhall doesn't handle ordnance so on operational flights they had to go next door to Lakenheath before deploying.


The first batch were taken on a late Friday afternoon in April 2011 when one of the two deployed (the one without the nose art..!) went up for a local training sortie, calling 'Titan 41'.






When he came back it was getting on for sunset and with the sun pretty much in line with runway 29, I went down to the lights and the edge of the forest to catch him nose on as he did several circuits.








The last approach was a shot back towards the base. A few days after these went on the web, the flight engineer on the aircraft saw them and contacted me asking for some copies, which I obliged and he made sure a 4th SOS patch made it to me. Nice guys who got on well with the local enthusiast community.


Then a couple transited through in June 2013. Harsh lighting but the first one with some nice nose art.




Then another pair came through in October 2014 which I caught (well, I knew they were coming, that's why I was there) in far better conditions.












That's all I have on them. They have been through other times but I just haven't been able to get over. At least they seem to turn up when the base is on 29 and you get the right side, otherwise it would be a big let down.



Edited by gary1701
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A few more older ones from the archive. Probably were posted some years ago but as already suggested I'll make this thread a source of all my Mildenhall material. Maybe do one for Lakenheath as well.


A rare sight over here. Hawaiian ANG KC-135 arriving late one winters afternoon. I believe it was on the regular TDY at Geilenkirchen in Germany for NATO E-3 support.




Followed a few minutes later by a C-17, still one of the best C-17 pics I've taken.




Smoky USAF E-3 inbound on runway 11.






A NATO E-3 in for circuit practise, something they used to do here quite frequently, but not so much recently.








US Army RC/C-12's operating from Mildenhall when their base in Germany was closed due to runway work.








That'll do for this batch.



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Another update with images pulled out of the archive.


An E-2 passing through on a bright weekend in December 2006. This isn't what it seems as the USN markings are fake - it's Egyptian, on it's way back home following work in the US. A close look shows how rough the markings are and the very rough covers over the Egyptian insignia.




Another rare one a few months later in February 2007. The deliveries of Polish F-16s were usually flown direct but one Friday a flight of three diverted in with problems. The rumour mill had them leaving on the Saturday morning so I went over and got there just in time. Strangely, they seemed very concerned about being photographed, the wind favoured a departure on runway 29, which was the end most of the regulars gathered at and they requested a runway 11 departure towards us, which initially looked like it had screwed us up, but then they kept very low on departure and we still got them. Note the black cover over the Polish insignia on the fin.






Back when the resident 100th ARW flagship carried the wing designation on the fin. 58-0100 has been on, off and then back again with the 100th several times over the years, but these markings haven't been carried for years.




OC-135 arriving in some dark light, although he caught the sun.




Old Pope C-130E leaving at the second attempt in 2008. On the first he'd left the pins in the undercarriage!




One of the C-32B's flown out of McGuire AFB, by the then 227th Special Operations Flight, now called the 150th Special Operations Squadron. These shadowy aircraft attract a lot of interest, and they certainly get around a lot if tracking sites are accurate. The exact number operated and their real identities have been the subject of a lot of research, with serial and identity swaps occurring frequently. This one '02-4452' was calling 'Hertz 72' on this visit.






Same day, and a Alaskan KC-135.




Fast jets passing through usually go next door to Lakenheath, but I did catch this flight of Turkish F-16s outbound to Red Flag.






That's it for this batch.




Edited by gary1701
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During that same Feb 2007 morning, I was flying in on the McConnell KC-135 that landed that morning. We were inbound for another deployment and I caught the Polish Vipers as we taxied past. 



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20 hours ago, ST0RM said:

During that same Feb 2007 morning, I was flying in on the McConnell KC-135 that landed that morning. We were inbound for another deployment and I caught the Polish Vipers as we taxied past. 




Thanks guys and hi Jeff. I think I must have missed you as my photo archive only shows the three F-16s taken on that day. I was quite late and only got to the well known 'mound' on the 29 approach to Mildenhall just as they taxied, so if you came in before I missed you. Here's a few other McConnell '135s I have taken in the years after with dates just in case any tie up with and other trips you made.


February 9th, 2008. This was a former 100th bird, that had recently left.




February 7th, 2009.




February 12, 2011




I'm sure there are some more, as McConnell tankers are frequent visitors to Mildenhall, but they don't necessarily make it to my Flickr pages as they're quite common.



Edited by gary1701
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Another selection going back a few years;


One weekend Volga-Dnepr brought back the SOG equipment from a deployment which led to a rare visit from a An-124.






...and a IL-76.






Iowa ANG coming off runway 29.




One Sunday afternoon several ANG tankers tried to get in with strong winds, this was the third successful attempt for this March bird.




EP-3's used to be quite common transits, but another type rarely seen now.






One I really wanted to see, Hawaii ANG.




The NATO E-3 force used to use a couple of 707's for training.






One nice February Saturday this Alaskan ANG HC-130 turned up.




Not seen at the time, only when I looked closely was the guy photographing back! Maybe somebody had warned him that if you go into Mildenhall on runway 29 look to the South at the threshold and you might see some idiots standing on top of a earth mound pointing cameras at you!





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