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RAF Mildenhall Air Fete
A-10/OA-10A Thunderbolt II - 82-0655/WR - United States Air Forces in Europe   A-7 Corsair II - 154502/AB-311 - VFA-41 - United States Navy   A-7D - 70-1088/HA   A-7E - 157452
Alize - 60   Alouette III - A-536   B-1B - 86-0114   B-2A - 90-0040

A tribute to RAF Mildenhall Air Fete

Report by Stuart Freer Photos by Mike & Stuart Freer

With the sad news of RAF Mildenhall’s closure at the beginning of January. I thought it would be a good time to share some memories of their wonderful Air Fetes over the years… I was fortunate to go to all the shows with my late father from the early eighties to its final one in 2001. As for me as a teenager growing up in the eighties nothing came close to that weekend at the end May when Mildenhall opened its gates to the public not even IAT, the general atmosphere the wet burgers & the superb flying display it couldn’t be bettered.

The first air shows at the East Anglian base took place in the mid-sixties with the final one being in 2001. There have been so many highlights from this fantastic air show over the years the first appearance in the static of an SR-71 Blackbird at its detached base in 1982. The 2nd prototype F-16 & YC-14 & YC-15 Advanced Medium STOL Aircraft at the 1977 show. An EC-121T Super Constellation from the 79th AEWS based at NAS Keflavik at the 1978 show making its last appearance before the type was retired, but personally there are two that really standout for me.

Firstly the SR-71A had become one of Air Fete’s star attractions following its first flying display in 1984. The Saturday display by the ‘Blackbird’ in 1986 was, somewhat unintentionally, the most spectacular ever seen by this aircraft. Approaching from the south-west, the crew realised that they were about to infringe the display line. The pilot began pulling the aircraft to a maximum 2g in a banked turn, the aircraft generated amazing vortices. Reheat was engaged, but the J79 engines’ prevented ignition under the prevailing conditions of the turn, high G and angle of attack, and streams of unburnt fuel trailed in its wake. When the reheat finally lit it ignited the trailing fuel in fireballs complete with a series of bangs. As you can imagine it was pretty scary to witness at the time but will live long in the memory.

The second very special moment was when a pair of RAF Lightning's were pulled out of the static at the 1988 show. They performed a circuit, then both pulled up and away into separate zoom climbs on a glorious late summer evening.

We all hoped for its return someday… Oh well. Thank you for the great memories RAF Mildenhall. Maybe just maybe there will be one final show before its closure in 2019.

EC-135H - 61-0286
C-2A - 155124   C-5A - 69-0004   C-141B - 65-0267   E-2C - 159110
C-118B - 131578   C-118B - 131578   C-131F - 141023   EC-121T - 54-2307
CF-104G - 104805
EA-6B - 161882   EC-135C - 63-8054   F-104G - 26+72   F-117 Nighthwak (withdrawn) - 85-0834 - United States Air Force
F-15 Eagle/Strike Eagle - 90-0248 - 492 Fighter Squadron - United States Air Forces in Europe   F-111F - 72-1448 - 492 Fighter Squadron - United States Air Forces in Europe   F/A-18 Hornet - 163477 - United States Navy   F-14A - 159632
G-91 - MM6243   G-91 - 32+71   Avro Lancaster BII - PA474 - Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - United Kingdom   Gannet AEW3 - XL502
A36   Mirage III - 111   Mirage F1C - 72   Noratlas - 159
F-14A - 159601
OV-10A - 66-13558   S-3A - 159760   Sea Harrier FRS1 - ZD581   YC-14A - 72-1874
SR-71A - 61-7974   SR-71A - 61-7980   SR-71A - 61-7980   SR-71A - 61-7973
Tornado GR1 - ZA447
F-4F - 38+12   TF-100F - GT-874   U-2R - 80-1074   YF-16A - 72-1568
SR-71A - 61-7980
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