I grew up in Hertfordshire, an area that sees very little active military traffic, which meant that
family holidays to the likes of East Anglia, and of course the airshow season, were the main means
by which my desire to see fast jets in the flesh, were satisfied.
Sometimes however, my Dad could be persuaded to take me on a day trip so we could hang out by
a perimeter fence somewhere and see what came our way, camera at the ready. By far the easiest
place for such a visit was RAF Alconbury, near Huntingdon, home to USAFE RF-4Cs, as well as
TR-1s and F-5Es.
The first time we visited, the resident ‘Rhinos’ had some friends visiting, more RF-4Cs, from Shaw
AFB in the USA, an incredible piece of good fortune. Those smoky, reconnaissance Phantoms were
in the circuit all day and we got the lot – run and breaks, burner overshoots, singletons, pairs and
four-ships. I’ll never forget it.
I love the Phantom, full-stop, but the RF-4C will always occupy a special place in my heart.
The Alconbury-based jets, along with their colleagues from the 26TRW at Zweibrücken AFB in
Germany were regular sights in the UK – how I miss them!
Gareth Stringer, Editor of www.globalaviationresource.com