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Unidentified Aircraft Landing at Lakenheath, late 1980s - Thoughts?

Vulcan652

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This is something that's intrigued me for a while and I was wondering if anyone might be able to shed any light on it (apologies in advance if it's already been covered - I've run a couple of searches and not found anything). The issue relates to several "documented" occasions in the late 1980s when witnesses experienced a mysterious unidentified aircraft landing at RAF Lakenheath under cover of darkness. According to one witness, police closed off Brandon Road (which runs past the end of Runway 24) while the plane came into land. What was more strange (according to the other witness) was that all lights on the base, except the runway lights, allegedly went out until the aircraft had taxied into a hangar/hardened shelter, after which all returned to normal.

Here's what witnesses said (full thread here: http://forum.keypublishing.co.uk/archive/index.php?t-15036.html):

Witness One:

"The only mildly 'spooky' event at any regular RAF/USAF base in the UK in recent years (apart from the Boscombe crash) was at Lakenheath late one evening when the Brandon Road was closed in the late 1980s whilst two aircraft landed in the dark. One of these was taxiied straight into a HAS (on the old 495th FS site) and given very tight security. When, and under what circumstances, it left I have no idea."

Witness Two:

"I was camping out at Lakenheath when that happened to me. We were parked just south of the lights, on a forest track, about 20 yards off the Brandon road. It was a Saturday night at about 10.30, mid summer, in the late 1980s. The base was well lit up, when suddenly almost all the lights, apart from minimal lights on the runway went out. We thought this a bit odd as we were used to the lights blazing all night. Approaching from the other end we could see aircraft lights on the approach. The plane landed and taxied left off the runway and over to the far side of the base. We couldnt make out what it was but it wasnt an F111, too small a wingspan, and it was a very dark coloured aircraft. We couldnt really see a good outline of it. After taxying out of view all the lights came back on and all returned to normal. It was a strange experience."

Of course the reports might be a load of rubbish, but I don't see what anyone would have to gain from inventing these stories. Assuming the reports are true, the timescale could correspond to the F-117 which wasn't officially acknowledged (as far as I know) until 1988, and reportedly used RAF Binbrook too in the late '80s (how it wasn't seen there is beyond me!). And, dare I say it, it also corresponds, timewise at least, to Chris Gibson's 1989 sighting of the triangular aircraft over the North Sea, whatever that might have been?

So I'm thinking there are at least a couple of options, and probably more (perhaps very mundane), for what these aircraft landing at Lakenheath might have been, but I wondered if anyone on this forum might have any other knowledge/insights/hunches whatsoever? Thanks in advance for reading this rather lengthy post!
 

Mr London 24/7

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You might want to try reposting at http://www.pprune.org/military-aircrew-57/, reason being this is where some ex-RAF types hang out and they occasionally might let some tiny little hint slip (usually accompanied by a nod and a wink to each other). You should also expect some p*** taking.

As for the Boscombe Incident, the original author of this actually is a member at pprune and at fightercontrol ('RichC'), and now wishes the info wasn't out there...:

http://www.fightercontrol.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=287&t=15348&start=20#p86876
 

Vulcan652

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Good call there and thanks a lot for the info. P*** taking I can handle. I spent a week on an RAF base once as a school boy cadet about 17 years ago and they gave us hell! But some of them were like the stereotypical air force chappie from TV so we had a good laugh too. I'll prepare myself for a bit of a hard time and see if anything interesting comes out of it!

As for the Boscombe crash, I didn't realise it had become such a headache for the original author. That's interesting, but I can totally see where he's coming from. Unfortunately I'm not qualified enough to really be able to offer an opinion. It's hard to know which witnesses are credible, which aspects of the story are accurate and which have been confused, and then there's also the problem of it being a fascinating story and wanting there to be some sort of black project involvement!

I did read this article by quellish and Dan Zinngrabe, which was interesting and has more info on Boscombe: http://web.archive.org/web/20060323071004/members.macconnect.com/users/q/quellish/TR3/tr3page1.html. Perhaps the mystery continues...

Thanks again for the suggestion.
 

Mr London 24/7

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Sure no problem, examples of the type of things they've let slip over the years are things like RAF West Freugh in Scotland being where the 'Skunky Stuff' was at (as opposed to the infamous Machrihanish). This also ties in with other reports like an unusually high level of physical security around the place. And at least a partial list of RAF Pilots who flew F-117's at Groom.

quellish IS Dan Zinngrabe, much of his info is still the best summary we have on some of these things, quite remarkable considering when it was written.
 

Vulcan652

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That's very interesting. I've seen pictures of West Freugh with its more modern hangars and I guess that knackered old Phantom on the dump suggests they have to practice their "crash rescue" or firefighting drills in case of emergency! I believe it's operated by QuinetiQ, and heard rumours that's where work on HALO was ongoing although to the best of my knowledge that one never made it to prototype stage?

I must pop up there some time when I'm next in that part of the world. That's interesting that quellish is Dan Zinngrabe, and I guess clears up why his nickname is only in the URL! I've read a load of his stuff on this forum, absolutely fascinating and clearly knows what he's talking about.
 

quellish

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mr_london_247 said:
quellish IS Dan Zinngrabe, much of his info is still the best summary we have on some of these things, quite remarkable considering when it was written.
I hope so. I'm wearing his underwear.

IF memory serves me correctly, in the 1980s crews from the 4450th would fly into Lakenheath in A-7Ds and make a show of security to reinforce their cover story. I could be mistaken, but I may be able to find a reference for that.
In the late 90s I had a good source in the UK who reported a lot of strange goings on. A very large GlobalHawk-looking *manned* aircraft flying out of the middle of nowhere, that kind of thing.
 

firepilot

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There was definitely something that went on, with F-117 crews going over with A-7Ds to Bentwaters. I was told that in 1989 just after the F-117 was acknowledged, by someone who spent time out at Groom, and later flew A-10s at Bentwaters.

And another current friend, flew F-117s before they were acknowledged, and he seems pretty emphatic that those aircraft did not deploy to the UK in the 80s, but that the crews did along with the A-7s
 

Vulcan652

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Thanks for the response guys! Much appreciated and fascinating info. Just goes to show how much effort they put into keeping the project secret, making a fuss of the old A-7s. Didn't know about the "manned" Global Hawk either. Need to get reading!
 

SpeedFanatic

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quellish said:
mr_london_247 said:
quellish IS Dan Zinngrabe, much of his info is still the best summary we have on some of these things, quite remarkable considering when it was written.
In the late 90s I had a good source in the UK who reported a lot of strange goings on. A very large GlobalHawk-looking *manned* aircraft flying out of the middle of nowhere, that kind of thing.
Would love to read any of those strage reports that were reported by your UK source, quellish... Any chances for any comments. Dan?
 

TsrJoe

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my 'UFO' sighting when driving near Salisbury c.mid 90's ... ???
Being a nerd i had my camera to hand (i snapped a Scorpion tank a few miles earlier when crossing the training area which overtook us in a roar and dust cloud at over 40mph.!) so took two photographs of the pair (of teeny nondescript dark aircraft shaped smudges) :/


In hindsight it was probably another Jaguar with large underwing stores or even a Harrier GR.5/7, definately looked to be dark green in colour contrasting with the chase aircraft, chances of it being a hitherto unreported wing trials aircraft would be pretty slim :)
 

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