Some of you had asked for some pictures of the base. A few will follow on this page, but probably not much of what you really wanted......e.g. it's difficult to take a picture of the gate without being shot, and the same goes for the flightline! Besides, unlike the other bases Jason has worked at, here at Lakenheath the aircraft are in dispersed PASs/HASs (individual Hardened Aircraft Shelters) and so aren't easy to take pictures of anyhow. As time goes on he may be able to sort out a camera pass, so if that's the case we'll add the usual plethora of F-15 pictures here ;) For now, some general-access parts of Lakenheath:
The base is home of the Statue de la Liberte (try to imagine the accent over that last e in Liberte, damned if I know the keyboard code for it) Wing, and that is why there is a mini Statue of Liberty on the roundabout outside the hospital! Although it's a bit on the small side, they do a lovely job of presentation with the flowers, trees etc.
180 degrees from the statue are the official flags for the base...... in case you can't make them out, that's the POW/MIA flag on the left, the RAF flag in the centre, and the US flag on the right. As you can see this is a pretty big roundabout.
The flowerbeds are lovely, at least this year. I'm not sure how much cynicism to inject here, as they might be this nice EVERY year.......but..........the base just spent a fortune on making everything as attractive as possible in order to compete for the USAFE (US Air Forces Europe) prize for the base with the best appearance. There has been a lot of activity concerning cleaning, painting, sweeping, trimming and planting and resurfacing the roads. Word is 'they' (bigwigs) spent $2 Million in order to win the one hundred thousand dollar prize. Apparently the cachet the Big Boys get from having a winning base outweighs the economics of the thing! Whatever the motivation, the base certainly looks most attractive at the moment.
There are some nice ornamental gardens just near the post office (didn't take a photo of that either, not wanting to look like a potential Foreign Menace Photographing Official Installations) and one of the displays there is this monument to the Medal of Honor winners. For the non-Americans amongst us, that is sort of the American version of the Victoria Cross. For those non-Americans amongst us who also have no Commonwealth background, you'll have to look it up :) It is a very nicely done monument, although somewhat depressing to see how much space can yet be filled.
Across the road from the Medal of Honour monument is the general park of remembrance, complete with three "planes on sticks"...... an F-15, an F-4, and an F-111.
The memorial part of the "planes on sticks" park.
The F-4, again with lovely flower beds.
Nothing like an F-4 Phantom for a bird's eye view!
Rear view of an Eagle-onna-stick
(Rather large) close-up of the Eagle-onna-stick empennage. It's this size because Jason was impressed that the base had catered to the 'spotters'. Although the real serial code of the aircraft has been changed for the display, if you look REALLY closely you can see that the real one has been painted on the underside of the stab so everyone can keep accurate records of which aircraft it really is. Some of you may find this strange. Others amongst you will understand. Some of you may even own an anorak :)
Another, tad arty, view of the Eagle-onna-stick, this time with the Aardvark-onna-stick in the foreground. That's the aircraft, mind, not the Texan delicacy. (As if anything delicate ever came out of Texas!) Some of you Australians might not recognise the F-111 from this angle, or simply because it isn't on fire. In Australia, almost every time the public sees an F-111 it's doing a "dump and burn" so seeing one not spewing flame is somewhat eerie. Perhaps the base here could work on that. After all, in Vegas the fake volcano on the Strip spurts out flame each night, so why not RAF Lakenheath's F-111? A 10pm And All's Well Dump and Burn (BYO marsh-mellows). It could catch on. (On fire, even) Anyway, I digress.
The F-111 carries the patches of the base back in the "olden days" of Tactical Fighter Squadrons. The left-most patch is for the 495TFS, which no longer exists - it was a conversion squadron for the changeover from F-4s to F-111s I believe. Once the wing switched to the F-15, it was deactivated. The other three patches are for the three squadrons that are still at the base, only flying F-15s (and as the old TAC/SAC setup of the Air Force has changed, they are now just plain Fighter Squadrons).
A small, not-too-frightening-for-newcomers roundabout right next to the memorial park. And wait. What's that on the other side? Yes, at last, it's an aircraft truly worth talking about!
A thing of beauty.
A thing of power.
The mighty Spitfire, one of "The Few" who somehow managed - despite terrible losses - to prevent the Luftwaffe gaining air superiority during the Battle of Britain. If anyone would like a larger version of the wording on the monument, let me know.