RAF Mildenhall does not rule out ‘last hurrah’ air show as thank you for ‘outstanding’ public support
- Credit: Keith Mindham/Archant
RAF Mildenhall airbase has not ruled out one last air show before the US Air Force leaves, describing it as an opportunity to thank the “outstanding” community for their support.
The air fete was Europe’s largest air show, drawing in crowds of visitors from around the world.
However, increased security concerns after the 9/11 terrorist attacks has meant the show never returned after 2001.
This week Forest Heath District Council leader James Waters said he was pushing for one “last hurrah” at the base, which is set to close in four to seven years.
A Facebook campaign calling for “just one more” air show has already been formed with over 190 supporters signed up.
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Lieutenant Candice Dillitte, deputy chief of public affairs for the base, said: “Currently, there are no scheduled air shows planned for RAF Mildenhall.
“If requested, the decision to have an air show is made at higher Air Force levels. These events hold a high importance with us as a community awareness tool.
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“It gives us a chance to thank the surrounding communities for their continual support, and the British community has always been outstanding supporters of the USAF in the United Kingdom.
“Though we do not have an air show planned, we are still able to offer guided tours to groups of 15 people or more.”
The base is currently home to 3,200 airmen from the 100th Air Refuelling Wing, which will all leave the base, along with thousands of dependants and civilian personnel when the base shuts.
However, neighbouring RAF Lakenheath, the bigger of Suffolk’s two US air bases, will be expanding with the arival of two squadrons of F-35 Lightning jets and 1,200 airmen.
Mr Waters, who represents Eriswell and The Rows ward on the district council, said an air show would also help rebuild stronger ties with the USAF, which he believes have never been the same since 9/11.
He has previously told the EADT the show would also serve to keep Forest Heath on the global map, as they looked to forge ahead with life without the USAF in Mildenhall.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), which owns the base, has yet to decide whether there will be any future military use after the Americans leave.
They are set to make a decision by September this year, with the district council concerned that “dawdling” from the MoD would lead to the site being mothballed.
Mr Waters believes that civilian use will more beneficial to the economy, but hopes aviation will still play its part.