June 1994, Lee-on-Solent airfield, quiet after the Fleet Air Arm had moved out, is kick-started back to life with a plethora of movements and aircraft using the base as a station of operations for the D-day celebrations.
While the jets for the massive flypast operated from Yeovilton in Somerset, the helicopters operated from Lee, with aircraft literally ‘littered’ around the airfield that provided an enthusiasts dream. Types on the station over the three day period included USMC Hueys, Cobras, and the ‘Frog’, as well as USN Sea Kings and Sea Stallions. Mildenhall based UC-12 flights were a regular feature, and the polished bare metal C-47 that had been a star at the Air Fete the previous weekend was stationed on site. It was joined by a Spit and P-51 that had also been at Mildenhall the previous weekend. On the Fareham side of the field two US Army Chinooks were operating together with no less than 4 VH-3D sea kings of the presidential flight. The UK air arms operated RN and Army lynxes, Sea King ASW, AEW, and Commandos as well as Puma, Gazelle, and Chinook helicopters.
My real star of the show that day though had to be this CH-46E Frog, seen here from the beach end of the airfield getting airborne. It was a type I’d never seen before, let alone in the air, and better still at my local airfield and completely unexpected!!! The whole weekend was one long series of firsts for me, both for types seen and for types seen at a base that had recently ‘thrown in the towel’ as far as large Military presence was concerned.
A great day, and although a huge part of me would rather have been at Yeovilton that weekend, I was more than happy with my lot at my local.
The Frog was shot with my Ricoh KR-10X and 400mm telephoto lens. This particular image has been scanned on a flatbed scanner from the original print.
The aircraft is CH-46E 153960, YM-00 (at the time with HMM-365). This machine entered AMARG on the 17/12/08 and is currently stored in Area 26.
(Many thanks to Paul Whitlock for the serial and current location of the Frog seen that day at Lee)