Waiting at Travis AFB, CA, to board a KC-10 to take me to RAF Mildenhall, England.


Back in the 60s, when the Stratgic Air Command still existed, and I was a part of that, we did not have this aircraft yet in the 22nd Bomb Wing. We were using the Boeing 707-based KC-135.


Here is the new tanker, shown during a refueling exercise with a KC-10. The new aircraft, the KC-46, is based on the Boeing 767. In the background we can see a KC-135, a large number of which are still flying, the latest airframes, or depot overhauled ones, and all re-engined with turbo-fans and are still the backbone of the aerial refueling force. As the KC-10 is based on the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, the KC-135 uses the venerable Boeing 707 airframe.



After we were airborne for a while, the crew was getting ready for an training exercise with another KC-10 and was kind enough to let me hang out in the boomer compartment in the tail end. The place I call the 'best seat in the house'. I used my Nikon D610 for these images.


Once the other aircraft arrived, they ware getting down to business


This process requires coordination between two aircrews and the boom operator, to get it done right and efficiently


We disconnected and gave everyone another try


The boom operator has control and the boom can be controlled and 'flown' to a certain extent in the slip stream of the KC-10 to assist in the link-up.



Linked, decoupled, and ready for another shot at it.


Done and done, and we're out of here.


Nine hours later, after flying over Canada, probably Alaska, we arrived at RAF Mildenhall. Sadly, I just read in the Air Force Magazine, tanker operations will be moved from there to Ramstein AB, Germany. We'll see. Things go slower than expected at times, and I hope to revisit the RAF Mildenhall area sometime in future.


Base lodge was full, but luckily, there was a cancellation and for one night I stayed in this very nice apartment.


No sooner had I settled in, it started to snow.
The next morning I was back at the Lobby, across from the passenger terminal. I made my reservation for the following TH, for a FR departure and moved to nearby RAF Lakenheath, a fighter base, only about five miles from here.


Lodging at RAF Lakenheath and the base main gate, above


Days and nights varied between snow, sleet, and rain


And only this beauty kept me informed on the weather. England was in the coldest December on record


Air ops continued regardless of weather conditions (iPod image) and below, taken with my Nikon D610 and telelens from the same location



From Harry Potter souvenirs to a comic book store, there was lots to see at the Base Exchange Mall. Not only did the BX Mall have lots of concession shops, but in the food court, an excellent Greek food place. Those friendly people knew their stuff.


Yup, the much anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi, was definitely in evidence, about to come to the base theater and here, in form of these items and toys, in the BX Mall.


I didn't go anywhere, weather and cost were not appealing to me, even though there is much to see in this general area. I had a great time chatting with Samantha, who, one evening, manned the souvenir shop in the BX Mall. Lovely girl and we had a fun time talking about JR Martin's Game of Thrones series and books. Other than that, I wrapped up well and walked for long distances each day.


I thought we were flying over Alaska, but we were actually over an extraordianarily cold northern English landscape


It's a wrap. I was hoping for more, but it was a brief and interesting experience anyway. I've never been to either of those two bases.

From Travis AFB, CA, to RAF Midenhall, England, and with the same crew and aircraft back home to Travis AFB