Air enthusiasts day offers close-ups of F-35A fighter jets

Dutch photographer Lars Veling shoots F-15 Strike Eagles staged for takeoff during a quarterly aviation enthusiasts day at RAF Lakenheath, England, Friday, April 28, 2017.


By WILLIAM HOWARD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 28, 2017

RAF LAKENHEATH, England — While hundreds of aviation enthusiasts lined the base’s perimeter fence, 24 professional photographers were invited inside on Friday for a closer look at the U.S. Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II fighter jet.

“Today we’re hosting our quarterly aviation enthusiasts day,” said Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria, with the 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs. “We normally bring them on base to photograph flying operations but today is a little different since we have a visiting aircraft.”

The fifth generation fighter jets from the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, arrived at RAF Lakenheath on April 15 for their first major overseas training deployment.

“Here in Europe aviation enthusiasts are abound and they’ve been outside of the fence at the end of the runway since we’ve been here,” said Micah Garbarino, 75th Air Base Wing media relations. Lars Veling made his trip from the Netherlands and spent the previous day outside the fence photographing F-35A takeoffs under a downpour.

“The rain really adds another dimension,” Veling told Stars and Stripes. “The droplets on the canopy and shine it gives to the aircraft really adds to the photo.”

In more favorable weather and after a quick bus ride to the flight line, photographers captured takeoffs by several F-15 Strike Eagles, F-35A Lightning II fighter jets and even a couple of visiting Norwegian F-16s.

On the bus ride back they shared their spoil of images and plotted to capture F-35 landings from favorite spots outside of the fence.

“England is really unique. We have a huge aviation enthusiasts community, they support the base and absolutely love that the U.S. forces are here,” Longoria said.

Twitter: @William16058388


Photographers take pictures of an F-35A Lightning II taking off from RAF Lakenheath, England, during a quarterly aviation enthusiasts day, April 28, 2017. The fifth generation fighter jets arrived at the base on April 15 for their first major overseas training deployment.

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