Eleven cadets and two staff from 1359 (Beeston) Squadron visited RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, home to United States Air Forces in Europe 100th Air Refuelling Wing, on 28th July. The visit had been arranged to give the cadets an insight into operations on a US airbase following similar visits to RAF stations.
The 100th ARW provides air refuelling to US and NATO aircraft in an area covering 20 million square miles using its 15 KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft. Also based here are Hercules aircraft assigned to the 352nd Special Operations Group who provide aircraft for special operations within Europe.
The tour started with a visit to the fire station. Following a short talk and a look around the building the cadets were treated to a demonstration of one of the fire trucks with some getting the chance to have a go with a fire hose whilst others tried on the protective clothing used by the fire crews.
The cadets then visited air traffic control. At 123 feet high the tower gave the cadets a birds-eye view of the airfield whilst the controllers were only too pleased to give an overview of their role. The cadets also got to listen into the radio transmissions as two aircraft arrived.
Following lunch the cadets paid a visit to the 351st Air Refuelling Squadron. This unit is assigned to the 100th ARW and operates the KC-135R Stratotanker. Following a video presentation and question and answer session the cadets went out to one of the aircraft for a close up look. Following an external walk around the cadets boarded the aircraft. Splitting into two groups one went with pilot Captain Jake Parker to the cockpit where he gave a detailed overview of how the aircraft is flown whilst the other group went to the rear of the aircraft where A1C John Pena showed them the boom operators’ station and demonstrated how the aircraft performs its primary mission of air-to-air refuelling. The groups then swapped over so that everyone got to see both aspects of how the aircraft is operated.
Following some group photographs the cadets headed back to the 351st building where the opportunity to purchase some souvenirs was taken and then it was time for the long drive back to Nottingham.
The staff and cadets of 1359 (Beeston) Squadron would like to thank everyone at RAF Mildenhall for their help in making the visit such an enjoyable one with special thanks to Karen Abeyasekere and Senior Airman Tommy Trower from the Public Affairs Office for arranging and hosting the tour and to Captain Parker and A1C Pena of the 351st ARS for a fantastic tour of their aircraft.
CI Mike Hill
Media and Communications Officer
1359 (Beeston) Squadron