Cold War Jets

SR-71A with Habu Pilot @ Mildenhall

In around the year 1988 my friend and I travelled to the back garden of someone in the village of Mildenhall to camp for the weekend. The purpose was to spend the weekend at the Mildenhall airshow, which I had been to before but was important for a few reasons:

  • Aircraft
  • Military aircraft
  • Military might
  • Blackbird
  • More planes

When you are a plane nut then airshows are where you get your kicks. I can’t help what I like and planes have troubled me all my life. It’s possibly due to growing up underneath the flight path of Stansted Airport in Essex. It could be because of my dad who was involved in the industry when I was young or it could just be that an aluminium tube filled with people and fuel doesn’t really have any business being six miles up off the ground.

Somehow Alan and I had found the number of someone who lived near a walk-in entrance to RAF Mildenhall [actually a USAF base] and we had booked to camp in her garden. Then, each day of the show we walked in. My memory of the charges is not great but I seem to think we got in for something like £5 each whereas a car for the day was £40. I suspect those prices are wrong given what prices were like in the 80s but I can’t remember. I do know it was dirt cheap to walk in to the show rather than drive.

SR-71A with Habu Pilot @ Mildenhall
SR-71A with Habu Pilot @ Mildenhall

There’s only a few things I can remember from the airshow. I sort of remember the Blackbird flying, it was a privilidge to see that. I also remember both AB and I watching a helicopter display, possibly an Apache, when it did a form of a wing-over or loop. Both, AB and I were amazed and clapped. There weren’t many who joined in the clapping, only those in the know.

Red Arrows Cross Over @ Mildenhall
Red Arrows Cross Over @ Mildenhall

The Red Arrows were there, of course, I I’m not sure if this was before or after I had been to Cyprus, porbably before and so I was still excited by them. The above photograph was beautifully timed by me.

My father must have found the original negatives of these photographs as he has scanned them inot his computer. I suspect there are some more picture lurking in a box somewhere and I’ll have to keep scanning his computer to see what I can find.

Here are some more photographs from those days. They aren’t very good but them photographs weren’t back in the 80s. I wasn’t great with a camera and with only 24 or 36 shots on a reel of film you were very limited in what you could take.

AB and I had a great time at the airshow. It was a really good experience and well worth the camping and entrance fees. I do feel it’s a bit of a shame that the number of airshows has decreased over the years, but these beasts were probably also a show of strength during the cold war. They were interesting times and maybe I should be glad we don’t currently need massive forces to prevent mutual destruction [it feels like it’s heading that was again though].

Addendum: I have had confirmation of aircraft types from a US source:

528km – Part 1 The Lakes

Just over a week ago I drove to the Lake District to spend some time camping and walking. My main objective was to escape the 30C heat in the South East and replace it with more normal 20C temperatures in the mountains, well, in the valleys anyway. I camped at Burns Farm camp site and it was well sited, within the peaks of Latrigg, Blencathra and Clough Head.

Burns Farm Campsite
Burns Farm Campsite

In this picture you can see Latrigg and my tent highlighted with arrows.

That first night I drove up to the Under Skiddaw car park and walked the little way to the top of Latrigg. It’s nice to see the lakes from this angle and gaze down on Keswick. Then I drove into town and walked along the banks of Derwentwater. It is so easy to take gorgeous photos of this lake in the sunset.


So, on the Sunday I got up and made coffee in my new cafetiere I bought solely for camping trips. The coffee was nice. The previous day I had checked out parking spots for my Sunday walk and I had decided to park at Thirlmere village hall car park where the parking was £2 for the day and the footpath I was planning to use started at that spot. When I got there on the Sunday though there was a notice up saying that the car park was being used for a private event for two days. So I headed 500m back and parked at Legburthwaite Car Park which turned out to be free!

I headed up the mountains via Stybeck Lane and then up towards Brown Crag. Brown Crag isn’t an official Wainwright Fell and so while pretty it doesn’t count towards my total.

From there I walked up towards Whiteside [number 84 by height 2317 ft]. From there it was a reasonably simple ridge walk to the following listed mountains, I used my walking poles for the first time and I found them useful for the open trekking rather than steep climbs.

  • Raise [number 12 by height 2889 ft]
  • Stybarrow Dodd [number 21 by height 2770 ft]
  • Watson’s Dodd [number 40 by height 2584 ft]
  • Great Dodd [number 19 by height 2807 ft]
  • Calfhow Pike – not on the Wainwright list
  • Clough Head [number 74 by height 2381 ft]

I wasn’t sure I was going to complete the last two peaks because there was a very long walk back to the car if I completed those. As it was I chose to do them anyway and the walk back hurt but was nice and fun.

The view from Clough Head was quite stunning.

View From Clough Head
View From Clough Head

There were two choices for the route down Clough Head, one along a very clear footpath [when seen in satellite view] and one down a steep scree path which is much steeper but shortens my walk back by some distance. After chatting with friends I chose the red scree path and it was fine. It was quite steep and thin but it was easily passable. In the picture above you can see a little of the bottom part of the path.

Once I got back to the car I drove the short distance to The Lodge In The Vale and had a lovely Persian cake with a cup of tea. It was very much deserved.