RAF Brize Norton - 27th & 28th December

27/12/2023

For months now, Israeli Air Force Boeing 707s have been stopping in the UK on their way to the United States, Dover Air Force Base, to be more specific. Until a few weeks ago, these aircraft stopped through RAF Mildenhall or Glasgow Prestwick Airport at midnight and departed no more than 2 hours later to the States. On Thursday, December 14th, Flightradar 24 showed one of these 707s coming into RAF Brize Norton on its way back to Israel. Unfortunately, I couldn't be there that evening, but it did sound glorious as it rumbled overhead my workplace. That evening, it landed before 17:00 and was gone before 19:00. 

It wasn't until Christmas night that it passed through Brize again, arriving late that night and departing early Boxing Day morning for Dover. By mid-afternoon on boxing day, long after it had arrived in Dover, Flightradar picked up its return leg flight, departing the USA at 01:00 on December 27th for a midday arrival into Brize. I woke on December 27th to find that it had not left the States yet, jeopardizing any chance of catching it that day.  It then became clear that I wouldn't catch its arrival in the daylight, as Flightradar showed a departure time of 09:00 for a 20:00 arrival into Brize. Finally, it departed Dover at 13:50 and arrived in Brize at 20:00. Having never previously seen an Israeli 707 I chose to head up and catch it land irrespective of the darkness. Despite my lack of night-time photography skills, I'm chuffed with what I produced. It was suggested that it would be departing at 21:30, so I headed for the pub whilst I waited. I returned to the base to find the aircraft still shut down with multiple doors open, suggesting it wouldn't be leaving imminently. By 23:00, I was cold, bored, and tired, so I went home. It's a good job I left when I did, as it was still on the deck when I woke up the following morning! Knowing it could depart at any time, I rushed to Brize on December 28th hoping to see it fly in the daylight. However, it wasn't to be. The aircraft appeared broken as the crew performed engine runs throughout the day. 272 screamed out of Brize at 01:30 on Friday, December 29th, heading for Israel. 

Israeli Air Force Boeing 707 Re'em 272 IAF728

The first movement on December 28th was this A400M Atlas departing initially for Amílcar Cabral International Airport, Cape Verde. 

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas C.1 ZM415 ASCOT4070

ZM421 was the last A400 to depart on December 28th. It is seen below departing to Gibraltar International Airport. 

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas C.1 ZM421 ASCOT4030

2 C-17s also departed that morning, with 99 Squadron crews seen below taking ZZ174 for a spin on a local training sortie

RAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III ZZ174 BLACKCAT821

ZZ176 was the first C-17 departure that day, taking UK aid for Ukraine to Rzesow. 

RAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III ZZ176 ASCOT6602

Something I didn't expect to see on the hardstands at the south side of the airfield was this AW109, which I'm convinced was blue in the dark! 

Agusta-Westland AW-109SP GrandNew G-SIRT