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gary1701

RAF Lakenheath photo thread

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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.

 

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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.

 

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84-0015, PC-9, 1991, when with 53rd TFS.

 

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No 2 jet in this late sun pairs approach.

 

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84-0019, 2x Su-25, 1991, when with 53rd TFS.

 

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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.

 

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Close up shot.

 

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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?

 

84027_1.jpg

 

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.

 

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86-0159, 1MiG 29, 1999 With the 493rd FS.

 

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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.

 

IMG_3909.jpg

 

Gary

 

 

Edited by gary1701

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Posted (edited)

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.

 

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Nice of them to bring one of the specials.

 

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Couple of reapers jumped in front of the final pair after popping next door to calibrate their cables earlier in the day.

 

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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.

 

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Finally, the usual Greyhound arrived well after dusk, camera really struggled here!

 

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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

Edited by gary1701

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Posted (edited)

Gary.... WOW.... those are exceptionally STUNNING Photos....thankyou.  LOVED them. 

 

😍

Edited by HOLMES

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Posted (edited)

 

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.

 

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Kalitta 747 that was only a few minutes behind them bringing the kit.

 

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The bugs caught a lot of people out yesterday, not today, it was packed.

 

IMG_9244.jpg

 

Could be a interesting couple of weeks, but I won't see any more of them as I have no more time booked.

 

Gary

Edited by gary1701

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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.

 

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Some from the 492nd down by the lights as the sum moved round. Need a pretty fast camera to try this...

 

IMG_1322.jpg

 

IMG_1263.jpg

 

IMG_1343.jpg

 

IMG_1327.jpg

 

IMG_1387.jpg

 

Gary

 

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Great pictures, nice to some navy aircraft turn up.   Is that standard procedure every time a US CVN does a port call?

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22 minutes ago, 11bee said:

Great pictures, nice to some navy aircraft turn up.   Is that standard procedure every time a US CVN does a port call?

 

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  

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Great pictures, thanks for sharing them.

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Posted (edited)
On 10/4/2018 at 6:04 PM, gary1701 said:

 

Finally, the usual Greyhound arrived well after dusk, camera really struggled here!

 

IMG_1650.jpg

 

 

 

Gary

 

...and this, kids, is why it's good to be a COD crewman! While the other 5,000+ Sailors pull into Portsmouth, you pack a weekend bag for a trip to the British countryside, and a more intimate visit with the pubs and local talent  😬

The more recent COD schemes have done away with the "wavy" demarcation line along the underside...looks kind of boring this way.

 

Great stuff, Gary! Love your photos. Keep 'em coming.

Edited by 82Whitey51

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7 hours ago, 82Whitey51 said:

 

...and this, kids, is why it's good to be a COD crewman! While the other 5,000+ Sailors pull into Portsmouth, you pack a weekend bag for a trip to the British countryside, and a more intimate visit with the pubs and local talent  😬

The more recent COD schemes have done away with the "wavy" demarcation line along the underside...looks kind of boring this way.

 

Great stuff, Gary! Love your photos. Keep 'em coming.

 

 

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

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Great pics, thanks for sharing!

 

Any idea when the 'Mach Loop' is active, or is it active relatively all the time?  I'm over to the UK in Nov and have a free weekend (and maybe a day or two during the week).  Any hints on how to get there from Slough or London would be appreciated!

 

Cheers,

Chris

Edited by CANicoll

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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 

 

 

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Gary,

 

Thanks for that info - that is a lot more than I had before!  I'm over for Scale Model World in Telford, then a conference two weeks later in London - so have a bit of 'spare' time on my hands.  Was over a few months ago and brought the camera gear over for Photographer's Day at Duxford - that was well worth the pain of hauling the gear over (including the 200-500mm lens).  

 

I'll keep a weathered eye out - the good news is I have a few weeks to plan still.

 

Best regards,

Chris

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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

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Hi Gary,

 

Thanks will do on when I'm over to see if you or anyone has any G2 on what might be happening then.  Looks like, since the week days seem the most active (?), Wed-Fri Nov 14-16.

 

I did look at that site, funny enough, and are checking out the hotels.  Now just have to figure out how to get there from London!


Chris

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On 10/10/2018 at 2:24 AM, CANicoll said:

Hi Gary,

 

Thanks will do on when I'm over to see if you or anyone has any G2 on what might be happening then.  Looks like, since the week days seem the most active (?), Wed-Fri Nov 14-16.

 

I did look at that site, funny enough, and are checking out the hotels.  Now just have to figure out how to get there from London!


Chris

Hello Chris...

 

Firstly you know who I am..WE sat next to one another en route to PIMA  and back..

:whistle:

 

so still not sure if TELFORD is doable as I might be on duty that/those particular days..but here us information on how to get to Lakenheath from London.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?ie=UTF-8&client=ms-android-samsung&source=android-browser&q=london+to+lakenheath#tduds=!1m6!1m2!1s0x47d8a00baf21de75:0x52963a5addd52a99!2slondon!2m2!1d-0.1277583!2d51.5073509!1m6!1m2!1s0x47d838d867d4ceeb:0xa6f27ad8fe2c4317!2slakenheath!2m2!1d0.5218539999999999!2d52.413917000000005!3e3

 

 

 

Trains London to Lakenheath - Train Timetables & Cheap Tickets
https://www.thetrainline.com/train-times/london-to-lakenheath

 

 

You know if I could take you in MY car I would but I am several hundred miles from the Big Smoke!

 

Good luck and u hooe you get to go to Lakenheath and even Mildenhall.

 

HOLMES.

 

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3 hours ago, HOLMES said:

Hello Chris...

 

Firstly you know who I am..WE sat next to one another en route to PIMA  and back..

:whistle:

 

so still not sure if TELFORD is doable as I might be on duty that/those particular days..but here us information on how to get to Lakenheath from London.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?ie=UTF-8&client=ms-android-samsung&source=android-browser&q=london+to+lakenheath#tduds=!1m6!1m2!1s0x47d8a00baf21de75:0x52963a5addd52a99!2slondon!2m2!1d-0.1277583!2d51.5073509!1m6!1m2!1s0x47d838d867d4ceeb:0xa6f27ad8fe2c4317!2slakenheath!2m2!1d0.5218539999999999!2d52.413917000000005!3e3

 

 

 

Trains London to Lakenheath - Train Timetables & Cheap Tickets
https://www.thetrainline.com/train-times/london-to-lakenheath

 

 

You know if I could take you in MY car I would but I am several hundred miles from the Big Smoke!

 

Good luck and u hooe you get to go to Lakenheath and even Mildenhall.

 

HOLMES.

 

 

You are SOOO deceptive!! Ha!!!  OK, good to see you here.   🧐  Thanks for the notes - 3 hours is very doable, I figured I'd get to the area on Wednesday spend Thursday and Friday morning seeing what is flying, and head back to London on Friday evening or maybe Saturday even.  Maybe Saturday/Sunday to Mildenhall.  After Telford some of my club folks and I are heading back to Cosford.  I guess I need to get my act together on this trip!

 

"Sherlock"

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Hey Chris..

 

I know   :tease:    ... well enjoy COSFORD too.  There are some really great things to see in the Hangars and outside.

 

May see you at Telford ..if not then apologies in advance.:whistle:

 

Going to Chattanooga if annual leave granted next year...are You?

:thumbsup2:

 

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Definitely going to Chattanooga - already have my hotel reservation (the two closest hotels are already sold out).  Went to their regional show in January, and likely will go again this January.

 

Hopefully will see you in Telford.

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What lenses do most of you use when shooting on the Mach Loop?  From some of the pictures I've seen there seem to be some pretty big telephoto's out there.  I have a 200-500 but if that is not appropriate I'd rather not haul it over.


Thanks in advance for your suggestions!


Chris

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