Back in late 70s and early 80s I was constantly asking my sister to drive me to this museum or that museum, where she endured many “aviation” talks and lectures held at such establishments. In the early 1982, was kind enough to write a letter the USAF at RAF Alconbury in Cambridgeshire, asking if I could visit the airbase to further my quest for knowledge of all things aviation based.
This was my first time on a US Airbase and it was a wondrous adventure for all involved. As we drew up to the main gates were confronted with a full size F-5 gate-guard and a similarly sized sign informing us that all vehicles would need searching. Following an extensive search we were simply directed to a location on the base to find the person in charge of our visit. Negotiating the base roads was an ordeal in itself, as almost every junction ended in a roundabout, which we later discovered was to aid the US personnel to practice getting used to the UK roads, as roundabouts were very rare in the US at the time. It was also very interesting to see a little slice of America existing in overcast England, complete with bowling alley and US stores.
We finally found our guide, who if memory serves me, was a Technical Sergeant called Marion L. Ray the IVth and we were shown around the airbase for most of the day and allowed to go pretty much everywhere. A mixture of F-5s and F4s were on base at that time and they were constantly taxing past, taking off or landing. I am not sure what squadrons were there at the time, but I would be interest to know.
I would visit Alconbury many times during the following years, to attend airshows, but I will always remember my first visit. It was one of those days that crystallises your memory, with vivid images and sounds, a day that spurred me on to follow aviation with even more vigour.