Do you remember?
#5 - 23 March 1993
Gary Parsons remembers a particular day in March
Ten years ago, 23 March was a double-whammy for the aviation enthusiast - not only did Vulcan XH558 make her last flight from Waddington to Bruntingthorpe, but also the last A-10s left RAF Bentwaters in Suffolk, closing the curtain on forty years of USAF operations from the twin-base complex that included Woodbridge a few miles away.
It was a bright and sunny day, if a bit breezy, but particularly good for those lucky enough to be in the back of the Hercules doing air-to-air with the Vulcan (bastards).
Down at Bentwaters USAFE had opened its doors to the general public for a low-key send-off for the remaining Thunderbolts, 81-0982 and 82-0655, both with their 'WR' tailcode removed ready for the transit to the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem in Germany. A brief ceremony was followed by the two aircraft taxying out through the washing-down water spray before taking off for the last time. Such was the relaxed atmosphere that many had migrated to almost the edge of the runway, the 'guards' being uncharacteristically relaxed about the whole thing.
A final formation flypast and they were gone - as was Bentwaters, a particularly charismatic airfield set in a lovely part of East Anglia. On sale were tee-shirts with the slogan 'RAF Bentwaters - will the last person out please switch off the lights'.
'Commie Corner' by Wantisden Church would never be the same again.