Spotlight: The first and only Tiger Meet, September 1992 by Gary Parsons
Between 14 - 17 September 1992, 74 Squadron hosted a mini 'Tiger meet', the first and only one to be held at Wattisham. Many units from across NATO participated, including Hawks from 4 FTS, Valley who would assume the 74 Squadron mantle later in the year, once the Phantom fleet had been decommissioned. It was very much a swansong for 74, as it was stood down on 1 October, all flying ceasing by the end of the month.
Some tiger schemes were on display, most notably the Portuguese G91R (left), a Dutch F-16 (right) and new kid on the block, the New Jersey ANG KC-135E. This unit had just traded its F-4Es in a change of role, the 141st TFS becoming the 141st ARS, so one of the tankers was suitably adorned with a tigers head, the refuelling boom making a very suitable place to paint a stripey tail.Refuelling missions were flown with some of the other aircraft participating in the meet, although not all were equipped to use the probe method preferred by the American forces.
The variety of aircraft in the meet provided a rare chance to see formations that would never be repeated, such as;
RAF Phantoms and Super Etendards;
...or maybe Alpha Jets.
As the Phantoms were near the end of their service, this encouraged a few pilots to be perhaps more entusiastic than they might otherwise have been, leading to some tight circuits and approaches being flown.
The 'Meet culminated a busy year for Wattisham, with the disbandment earlier in July of 56 Squadron, the flypast for the Queen's birthday and several events to mark the passing of the Phantom from the RAF's inventory. Sadly, the approach to runway 23 will never see the like again.
Aircraft involved during the four days were (click highlighted serial for picture):