Text & Pictures: Serge Van Heertum - Translation: Philippe Decock  sbap 2017
 

A tour in the Lincolnshire region gives you an idea of the level of activity of the Royal Air Force especially since the weather conditions were excellent in the northeastern part of the United Kingdom in early march.

A stop at RAF Scampton allows us to contemplate the must-see Royal Air Force aerobatic team, the Red Arrows, in action. The team was a bit late on his training schedule and was working hard to be ready for the airshow season. Indeed, the Royal Air Force sent her ambassadors for a Asia and the Middle East tour. The tour was a huge success but had the consequence of pushing back the start of the training period that usually begins in october.
It was not before late december, when back home, that the team was able to start its training, including the integration of two new members. As it is the case every year, two newcomers are joining the " Reds ", which makes training essential to the overall cohesion of the group. Weather permitting, the Red Arrows fly four to five times a day. The flights see three, four, five or six aircraft flying together, depending on the training phase. The " Reds " repeat tirelessly all the manoeuvres of the display programme to be ready on time.
They still had a lot of work ahead when we saw them in march but, in the end, they will achieve the outcome that we all know and that we can truly appreciate.

After the aerobatic team, we visited the large fighter base in Coningsby and her Typhoons. As the weather during the first days of march was rather good, no less than fifty missions were flown each day. The missions from Coningsby were flown by the two operational squadrons, 3(F) and XI squadrons, the operational conversion unit, 29(R) squadron that teach new fighter pilots how to fly and fight in a Eurofighter Typhoon and the test and evaluation unit, 41(R) squadron. A lot of movements including missions with two to four aircraft and a couple of singletons performing touch and goes.
Many aircraft very devoid of any unit markings as a consequence of the many overseas combat missions where discretion is paramount.

A third and final visit was made to Waddington, home of the eyes and ears of the RAF. Waddington is home to Boeing E-3D Sentry operated by 8 and 54(R) squadrons, the Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint operated by 51 squadron, the Raytheon Sentinel R1 operated by 5 squadron, the Beechcraft Shadow R1 operated by 14 squadron and the General Atomic MQ-9A Reapers operated by 13 and 39 squadrons.
All those machines, full of electronics, are designed to manage a range of different missions in a modern warfare environment. Needless to say that the type of aircraft based at Waddington and the missions flown by those highly specialized aircraft implies a much lighter activity than on a fighter base.
Those crews, acting in the shadow of the fighter pilots, are essential to the success of missions flown in highly hostile environments.

As you can see in the photo report, the Royal Air Force is very much alive and kicking, being by her ambassadors or by her modern warriors.

Let us remember that, during the second world war, the Lincolnshire was home to countless fighter and bomber bases and that many aircrews fought the war from that region like Bomber Command Avro Lancaster that flew missions over Ausbourg (44 squadron from Waddington) or over the Ruhr dams (617 squadron from Scampton).

But that is another story...

 
 In the "Reds" den...
 
 
 XX325 not parked in the flight line Ready for the training flights
 On taxi for the first training of the afternoon
 XX244 XX232
 XX311 XX219
 
 Take off... ...in formation
 A first loop in solo Corkscrew
 Preparing for.... ...the Gypo break
  Back to the base for the XX311, time for debriefing afterward
 The XX245 on towing
 "Reds" all the way...
 The second wave 
 Strat point for the Slalom figure
 Five ship formation with deep black sky End of the Slalom figure
 Back to the base with the smokes... ...and final break
 Taxi back to the flightline
 XX325 XX227
  XX310
 XX322 XX323
 Hello dear "Red"
 
 
  End of second training of the afternoon, but it's not the last one
 Royal Air Force ambassador... ...and some history in the hangar
 See you all during the 2017 season !
 
 
 Fighter operations @ Coningsby
 
 
 ZK310 at take off ZK383 above the last chance control truck
 Touch and go for the ZK383 ZJ814 on landing
 Close up on the "drivers" ZJ814
 Tactical break Some touch and go for the ZK379
 ZK353 back home ZK310 on taxi
 The friendly ZK325 pilot ZJ920 departure
 Take off for the ZK325 and for the ZJ939 wearing the Squadron XI colours
 ZK354 on taxi Two aircraft owned by the Squadron XLI
 ZK365 take off... ...followed by the ZK367
 Squadron 29(R) ZJ806 and the ZJ804
 The ZK382 rolling
 Four ship wave back for the break
 ZJ810 in front and the ZK310 on landing ZJ939 touch
 ZK325 landing ZJ920
 ZJ810 ready for take off The ZJ804 in good company...a "Beluga"
 A go around series for the ZJ804 Little close up
 Another wave for departure...the ZK310 The ZJ939
 ZK325 Landing for the ZJ804
 
 ZK354 landig, the Wing Commander aircraft ZJ939 take off
 ZJ810 landing ZK373
 ZK352 in final
 ZJ927 Go around for the ZK365
 ZK367 A Typhoon pilot with the BAE Striker II helmet
 Close up on the ZK379 ZK365 on landing
 ZJ802 on taxi Holding for the line up clearance
 ZJ802 on take off
 
 RAF Coningsby is also the BBMF homebase: 
De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk T.10 WK518
De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk T.10 WG486
 The eyes and ears of the RAF are here based!
 

 
 Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 ZH107 100 years Squadron 54 markings
 The Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint den with the ZZ664 left and the ZZ665 on the right
 The ZH106 on taxi for a mission with a real special paint scheme Line up on runway 20
 Take off for a long mission...but where?

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