RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, 6th March 2019

17th April 2019
Written by: Rob Slusar

The day after returning from Slovenia, I headed up to RAF Lakenheath.

As the air show season is primarily a summer fayre, I do like to get out to keep my eye in when it comes to aviation photography. Given Lakenheath is about 45 minutes from my house, it made sense.

RAF Lakenheath

RAF Lakenheath is one of two bases in the area currently operated by the USAF (RAF Mildenhall being the other).

Usage of the site dates back to the First World War, where it was used as a practice range for ground attack aircraft. In 1940 it became a Starfish decoy airfield for Mildenhall.

The first real runways were added in 1941, with the RAF moving operational units of Wellingtons (the replaced by Stirlings) moved in towards the end of the year. Towards the end of the war, it was upgraded and prepared for heavy bombers from the USAF, but by the time the works were completed the war was over and it was put in a maintenance status.

The USAF moved to the site in 1947 with its B29 bombers (part of the Strategic Air Command or SAC) and the site was fully refurbished ready to resume active service in 1948. The site was officially transferred to the USAF in 1951, and they have remained on site until now.

These days, the site is occupied by the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing. This is made up of the 492nd, 493rd, and 494th Tactical Fighter Squadrons. These Squadrons are made up by a selection of McDonnell Douglas F-15s.

The USAF is likely to remain at this base for years to come, even after Mildenhall moves its operations to Germany and RAF Fairford.

The Photos

Unlike RAF Marham, Lakenheath is much more accommodating to spotters. Whilst there are a number of open fields and accesses, they have provided a dedicated spotting area. Located at the end of the runway, this unsurprisingly is rather busy.

This was my first visit to Lakenheath so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It turned out I had other spotters to learn from, and it was a rather active day (I was there for 6 hours and the flying was constant).

It was a rather gloomy day, not particularly warm, but it was dry. So stood behind the fence, I did what I do best and captured the Eagles as they took off.

Here are the shots I kept, I hope you like them.

Final Thoughts

When I started the day, I wasn’t sure I would go given the weather. Having eventually made the decision to go, I was not disappointed. The weather may not have been perfect, but I was surrounded by fast jets (including a surprise Tornado visit).

If you are a plane buff, I would suggest heading down there.

Thanks for looking