range is now unmanned but secure. Equipment and fittings have been
removed from all buildings including the control tower.
air weapons range ceased air operations on 2 Dec 2009 but a skeleton
staff will remain for some months while equipment is removed and an
assessment made for future explosive ordance disposal.
behalf of myself and ESAG members I would like to thank the staff
of RAF Wainfleet for their warm welcomes whenever we came to visit
the station. My first visit to the station was back in 1985 while
I was on holiday in Skegness with my family. Having driven down
to the front to view F-111s bombing one evening I stopped as we
passed the compound and spoke to the station commander. To my surprise
we were invited up to the tower in order to view the activity which
culminated in a CLOSE "wheels check" by one of the F-111s!
That was the start of my long association with the range and I have
been a regular visitor ever since.
Over the years the station has supported us with our fundraising
for the RAFBF by supplying us with various items such as spent practice
round casings and projectiles. In return we have supported the RAF
Wainfleet Open Days which were becoming ever more popular.
One hesitates to pick out individuals as all were most helpful when
I harrassed them for this and that:
Sally for her enduring smile and copious cups of tea and coffee;
Roy for his interesting conversations and his permission to go places
where visitors were not usually allowed; Kev Wilson for his northern
wit and charm and his willingness to help out where and whenever
he could. The guys in the tower, collectively they kept up our spirits
when, as quite often happened, the traffic dried up due to circumstances
beyond their control. Ah, the times we put the world to rights!
One good piece of news emerging at the party was that four of the
Serco guys plus a part-time H&S person will be staying for the
time being in order to assist EOD with range clearance .
So to all you guys we send our thanks and wish you all the best
for the future.
closure ceremony of RAF Wainfleet took place on 2nd December 2009
although the station actually closed on the 3rd.
I attended on the last day and was very kindly invited by Flt.Sgt.
Carl to join the lunch at the local pub. Despite the obviously subdued
atmosphere of the occasion staff enjoyed the very special air of
comradery in evidence and a number of fitting tributes were paid
by senior members of the various organisations involved in the operation
of the station. Presentations were made by SERCO and EOD to members
endeavoured to say a few coherent words after lunch although having
not been expecting to attend this part of the proceedings I had
nothing prepared. I then presented each member of staff with a framed
print commemorating the closure.
MOD has an ongoing requirement to tailor its facilities to support
operational training and to that end rationalisation options for the
Training Estate across the UK are currently being looked at. This
Air Weapons Ranges and the future use of RAF wainfleet is yet to be
finalised. The last flying day at RAF Wainfleet will be 2 Dec 09.
brings to a close 71 years of operations as an RAF Air Weapons Range.
programme for November will see Wainfleet going out with a bang
whimper, provided of course that squadrons honour their bookings.
Bookings promise one of the fullest programmes for many months with
both the 492nd and 494th, GR4 Tornados from Marham, Harriers from
1, 4 and 20 Sqns and the Naval Strike Wing, and of course the Fast-Jet
Sqn. We also expect cabin gun-firing on 10 days.
will be a Tornado Bombing Competition on 12 Nov between IX Sqn and
remember that the activity listed above is subject to change/cancellation
at short notice. If you intend to visit be prepared for possible disappointment,
especially if the weather is unfavourable!
Sqn and we expect a large number of visitors from former members
of the Squadrons including a number of ex-wartime aircrew.
are unconfirmed rumours emanating from the Pprune forum that RAF
Wainfleet is due to close in 6 weeks, watch this space for futher
30 Sep a farmer working a field close to the bombing range unearthed
a metal object. On examination by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal
team from RAF Coningsby it was identified at an RAF 1000lb Target
Indicator. Although it appears some effort had been made to make
it safe, there was evidence of pyrotechnic candles still inside.
These were removed for safe disposal and Serco recovered the body.
It has been painted in representative colours and presented to the
Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby on 8 Oct.
On the afternoon of 8 Oct a farmer reported finding a number of
bombs in his potato riddler. On examination these appeared to be
a 25lb Practice Bomb body, three 8.5lb Practice Bomb bodies, the
base plates of two 5 inch shells, some pyro bits, a device that
might have been a tail fuse, and a live .303 round. They were destroyed
in situ by 5131 EOD Sqn from RAF Wittering who arrived within 90
minutes. As this was off MOD land the civil police were also in
of an era; well not yet. For 20 years Serco Defence has managed the
Wainfleet Range on behalf of the MOD and they were to handover to
4 Dec. This plan has been delayed and Serco will now continue to operate
range at least until 31 Mar 10."
a revised risk assessment the air weapons range has been changed from
an Open Range to a Closed Range. A Closed range is one where the risk
from weapons debris and unexploded ordnance is such that it is unsafe
for members of the public to enter the range area. The visible difference
is that the range warning flags are now flown at all times. Only two
weeks after the change a live practice bomb was found only 400 metres
from the main car park. Although it had lain undisturbed for over
20 years it was still live and was destroyed in situ.
The risks on the range come not only from the weapons but from the
tides and conditions. In June, during a range inspection, the tractor
broke down and had to be rescued by the range JCB. The tractor was
taken under tow but the JCB ran into quick sand and got stuck. Although
the tide was well out, so were the tractor and JCB. We started to
walk the 3 miles back to the shore while waiting for transport.
After a pleasant stroll across the marsh we were eventually picked
up by the Range 4x4 crew wagon. The tractor and JCB are still on
the range and have been notified as a hazard to shipping.
It goes on. Although explosives, tide and weather pose considerable
risks the salty conditions will destroy anything. It destroyed the
4x4 crew wagon and it failed its MOT. While this was bad news for
the contractor things did not stop there. The 4x4 ran into quick
sand in July and it too is now a permanent fixture on the range.
Serco had replaced the tractor and JCB and are fingers crossed that
the remaining vehicles will survive until December.
Wainfleet will be opening it's doors to the public again this year
on 4th August. It is hoped that there will be a further increase in
exhibitors and visitors as the event becomes evermore popular. Entry
is free and there will be regular guided tours to the control tower.