RAF Lakenheath begins night flying operations
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — Residents and military community members around Lakenheath began hearing noises in the night last week as the 48th Fighter Wing hit the ignition switch on its yearly schedule of night flying operations.
The base announced Wednesday that the Wing’s F-15C and F-15E Strike Eagles have moved into their winter operating hours, when aircrews typically stay in the air into the evening to fulfill requirements that call for them to fly in all conditions, day or night.
Each year from about mid-October to mid-April, the fighters take advantage of the early darkness to perform the night-flying requirements, including takeoffs, landings, refueling and the full range of standard daytime operations, said Lt. Col. Charles Midthun, deputy commander of Lakenheath’s 48th Operations Group.
The extension of the schedule means the boom of engines over local residents’ heads can be heard into the dark hours, but local officials said the nighttime activity doesn’t normally generate complaints.
A spokeswoman for the Forest Heath District Council, the area’s British governing body, said district offices rarely receive phone calls from local citizens about the roar of fighters taking off and landing at night.
Generally, the base makes an effort to be done early enough to keep the disturbance to a minimum, Midthun said.
“We get all the jets on the ground by around 10 p.m.,” he said.