Low Approach Spottingtrip 2019 UK: RAF Lakenheath
Our annual spottingtrip with Low Approach Aviation Photography took us to the UK in 2019 from 19th May until 25th May. Various bases and museums were planned to visit, first we planned to pay a visit at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, afterwards we were going to Lakenheath and Mildenhall and normally we also planned to go to Marham airbase. But because the RAF F-35’s went on deployment to Cyprus we decided to stay at the previous mentioned two airbases. The report from our visit to Mildenhall you find on the following link
In this report we will focus on our days at the fence at RAF Lakenheath. Although an RAF airbase, it hosts United States Air Force units and personnel.
The host wing is the 48th Fighter Wing, the 48th FW host three squadrons:
- The 492nd Fighter Squadron (492nd FS), nicknamed "the Bolars" and "the Madhatters", they operate the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle.
- The 493d Fighter Squadron, nicknamed "The Grim Reapers", flying the McDonnell Douglas F-15C/D Eagle.
- The 494th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed “Panthers”, flying the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle.
Later this year they expect the arrival of the first Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighters at Lakenheath. They should operate alongside the 492nd FS and the 494th FS with their F-15E Strike Eagles.
We planned to visit Lakenheath on Monday because we found on the web that the visiting F-16C’s from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 93rd Fighter Squadron ‘Makos’, part of the 482nd Fighter Wing and based at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida were leaving Lakenheath for their homebase after two weeks of Flying Training Deployment (FTD). During the two-week FTD, the squadron’s primary focus was working with USAFE and RAF units, demonstrating the U.S. Air Force’s ability to integrate a Total Force team during training and operations. The 93rd FS flew more than 136 sorties and accumulated nearly 180 flying hours.
On Monday only six Fighting Falcons left Lakenheath, the other batch of six were planned to leave on Tuesday. Sad that on Monday before noon the weather was not good with low clouds and on Tuesday they changed the runway minutes before takeoff, so no decent pictures could be taken because off the heatwaves on the runway.
During the rest of the week we came back to Lakenheath a couple of times to watch the locals during their daily operation flights. We saw mostly birds flying from 492nd FS because during our stay the 494th FS was on deployment to the USA to take part at several exercises. That’s the reason why we missed them. We made a selection of what we’ve seen at Lakenheath during the week.
During our stay at the fence we also saw some larger planes landing at Lakenheath, like the Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy, the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III from the US Air Force and a civil Boeing 747-4B5(F) from Kalitta Air.
We had a very nice week at the fences of Lakenheath and saw some very interesting movements, for us another special was that through the whole week the locals were flying with some bombs fitted on their hardpoints.
Tekst: Dirk Geuns
Photography: Andy Patzelt, Alain Meykens, Dirk Geuns