Over the years I’ve had many trips to Lakenheath and Mildenhall, the trip on Friday 22nd April will remain as the most memorable I’ve had since my last Air Fete back in the 90’s.
The reason for the trip? Raptors, F22A’s to be precise. America’s fifth generation jet fighter. Like many other aviation enthusiasts I jumped at the chance of seeing the rare visit of American F22’s at Lakenheath. No one knew they were coming, I saw no heads up messages beforehand, they simply arrived. Fantastic!
Plans were made and I met up with good friends Stephen and Andrew from a small Facebook group I’m a member of. Unlike earlier in the week the weather was back to it’s usual English drabness. No blue skies and plenty of clouds.
At around 10.30 the first departures of the day as a group of F15’s departed accompanied by their visiting friends.
Having seen the departure we made our way to the eastern end of the base, 06 as it’s known, to try and capture the arrival back. After a swift drive followed by a short walk we found ourselves at the end of the runway to find another group of Eagles departing. The noise was tremendous.
Sure enough the first batch of Raptors and Eagles returned.
After we’d counted them all in we made our way to Mildenhall to see if we could capture the arrival back of the Presidential flight. As we arrived a couple of the resident MC-130J’s were doing circuits and bumps, we’d seen them doing there thing from Lakenheath.
Sure enough, in grey gloomy skies the US Marine Corps arrived back at the Hall. We’d parked in John’s Field at the end of runway end 11 and watched as the Sea King and Ospreys returned. A very rare visit of these types to the UK.
Having decided that not much else would happen we made our way back to the Warren, public land overlooking Lakenheath. We were fortunate enough to see the Raptors return after their afternoon sortie and catch a returning Pave Hawk helicopter.
Thankfully the weather held all day and we were treated to a fantastic display of air power. One I will not forget for a very long time.
Please have a look at the full gallery (below) on Flickr.