Thursday, 8 January 2009

Airbases everywhere!

Put your google earth window to about 20,000 feet (that's about 6-7,000 metres) above Eastern England - pretty much anywhere over Eastern England (Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire, etc) and there's a good chance that your window will contain an RAF base. Nearly all of them follow a similar desing of two runways, offset about by 70 degrees to each other, with a third, rougher strip of tarmac running across them to form a sort of A-Frame. There used to be even more, and the landscape is dotted with old airfields that are now given over to agriculture, vehicle storage, light industry or have become small civilian aerodromes. Places like RAF Harrington, RAF Leicester East, RAF North Pickenham and RAF Bottesford.

Most of this is a legacy of the Second World War. No point building lots of airbases in Cumbria and Gwynedd when the threat came from the East and South. The rationale for their existance continued into the 1950's and beyond, when the Red Menace stood poised to turn Grantham into a glowing cinder.

These days, Tornadoes, Spitfires and Vulcans aren't much use against people with bombs in rucksacks, and some of these bases are being allowed to fade into history.

Much as I like flying and aeroplanes and stuff, I can't help thinking this is not entirely a bad thing.

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