C-5 flypast at Mildenhall, May 1997

C-5 with everything hanging pleases the crowds at ‘the hall’ on a wonderful day at the Air Fete in May 1997

More a scene than an aircraft shot this time round, showing Mildenhall in 1997 with the C5 galaxy exposing everything in a wheels and flaps down pass for the masses.

There’s nothing I could write on here that hasn’t already been said about how much the aviation enthusiast fraternity misses the trek to the ‘only place to be over the May bank holiday’ that was the Air Fete. I, as a nine year veteran miss it terribly to be honest. Being there at the build up from Wednesday, more and more movements as momentum gathered until the Friday, when static arrivals were mixed in with base movements, display practices, and even the odd Lakenheath movement over the top. Friday night down to West Row past the line at the chippy and ending up at the White Horse for the evening, then back to the camp site afterwards.

Saturday, up as early as you could possibly be, frying up bacon rolls to take on base, then the hike from West Row with Camera gear and folding seat, under the end of 11, then round the parameter fence to enter via a back gate for, wait for it, a fiver!!!!! on base just before 0800 and moving as quick as you could possibly move to snap all the static you could before the masses turned up. Grab a wet burger by about 1000 (had been up a while by then), then a beeline for the Hannants stand to hoover up as many decal sheets and extras as you could fit in the camera bag. Over to get the programme and sticker, then finding a suitable spot to watch the show, taking copious amounts of film into the sun all day to get maybe 20 flying shots max that you could grow to like. But who cared, you were at Mildenhall all weekend soaking up every drop of atmosphere you could!!!!! So Saturday night, once the field went quiet after the last aircraft shut down (often the B-52 that had held off until the end to land on and be towed back to its spot) there was only one place to be, The White Horse!!!!!

Sunday, another early start to get in for last chance static of the weekend, another look at that Hannants stand, and maybe another burger or two, before the walk back to the camp site that was on the right side to enjoy shots of the flying for the rest of the afternoon, giving mixed results of the flying display over two days and often better. Plus the added bonus of XH558 opening up to the wing over right over the top of the site (such a hard life back then!!). So, Sunday night…………….The White Horse then, and the mood a great deal less upbeat than it had been Friday and Saturday, quiet pockets of people talking without the loud aviation related discussion and laughing of the previous two nights. The weekend we’d all waited 12 months for since the last one was drawing to a close, and it would soon be another 12 months before the next one.

Monday morning, starting to pack away at the site, and due to the bank holiday it was never the mass departure you’d expect, instead the odd movement and engine sound would stop the packing and be cause to reach out for the large lens equipped camera sitting waiting for its next opportunity.

Then before you know it, that’s it, weekend gone, work Tuesday, journey home to the South. Last look at the hangers on the field, some with tails sticking out, then the tankers and show aircraft on the apron, then its all gone until the next year…………….

The picture was taken with the Ricoh KR-10X and 400mm telephoto lens, and scanned from the original negative taken in 1997.