Ash has lingering effects on AF jets
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets at RAF Lakenheath, England, resumed flights on Thursday, eight days after being grounded by the threat of a high-altitude cloud of ash from an Iceland volcano.
Aircraft at nearby RAF Mildenhall had not resumed KC-135 flights, however, Air Force officials said.
In Germany, flight operations were returning to normal Thursday at Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases, with no reports of aircraft problems from volcanic ash, base officials said.
Spangdahlem planned to fly both A-10 and F-16 training sorties Thursday, said 52nd Fighter Wing spokeswoman 2nd Lt. Kate Polesnak.
"We’ll continue to monitor the local airspace conditions," she said.
Ramstein, which usually has a number of daily flights to and from Iraq and Afghanistan, was still diverting many flights through facilities in Spain.
The Air Force could decide Friday to begin shifting such flights through northern Europe again, according to Brig. Gen. Randy Kee, vice commander of the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
"We do not want to reconfigure out of the bases we’re operating through on the southern routes through the Iberian Peninsula back up to Germany until we can go there with a reasonable assurance we can stay there," Kee told a group of reporters Wednesday.
F-16s at Aviano resumed flying Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, mail shipments resumed in most locations around Europe, though Army and Air Force officials said customers would not likely start seeing mail in their boxes until Friday in most locations.
"We expect it to be similar to our Christmas rush," said Billy Smith, project manager for postal transformation for Installation Management Command-Europe.
Postal facilities at Ramstein, Sembach and Kapaun won’t accept outgoing mail until Monday, the Air Force said. But mail could be dropped off at bases elsewhere.
Most of the products the Army and Air Force Exchange Service sells come to Europe via ship, but Lt. Col. Wayne Marotto said items such as magazines, some electronics and some other merchandise delivered by air haven’t reached stores in Europe recently.
Stars and Stripes reporters Jeff Schogol and Jennifer Svan contributed to this story.