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AAC Wattisham

Tuesday 9th April 2024, another aviation first for me, a visit to the Army Air Corps Station of Wattisham. Formerly RAF Wattisham, it used to operate our F4 Phantom Fleet and F3 Tornados in the later years.


Now home to 3 and 4 Regiment Army Air Corps who are responsible for part of Britain’s Attack Helicopter Force (AHF) now equipped with the new AH-64 E variant of the Apache.


3 Regiment AAC consist of three Squadrons; 669 Sqn (HQ), 662 Sqn and 663 Sqn.  


4 Regiment AAC consist of three Squadrons; 654 Sqn (HQ), 656 Sqn and 664 Sqn.


This shoot was all in aid of raising money for the Prostate Cancer UK charity and organised by Timeline Events. Arrival on station was 1500hrs with briefing taking place around 1600hrs. Once on station we were directed over to ATC where we had cakes, teas/coffees and eventually a curry laid out for us which was grand! The initial plan was to be photographing around 6 Apaches on the ramp as they went off on training sorties. However as some of you who are used to working in these environments know all too well that phrase ‘subject to operational requirements and serviceability’ came to the fray. No bother we still had an evening sortie taking place for the purpose of night currency as I understood it.


AH-64 E Apache Wattisham

We had the opportunity to shoot out on the ramp as the sun was setting over the East of England which proved to yield some fantastic light, perfect for silhouette opportunities and dramatic shadows and light.


AH-64 E Apache Wattisham

I then got the opportunity to head into ATC for a tour of the facilities which were operated by NATS. Unlike on an Air Force station where operators are all Air Force staff the staff here are civilian contractors from NATS. Curry time and a welcome bit of warm food was just what the doctor order as the temperature outside was plummeting owing to the wind chill factor.


As the light was drawing in the ramp lights went on and the AH-64 E started up that was ready and waiting. Ground checks complete it taxied out to the hold, hovered and made its way over to the runway before departing.


AH-64 E Apache Wattisham

AH-64 E Apache Wattisham

AH-64 E Apache Wattisham

AH-64 E Apache Wattisham

Shooting in these sort of conditions with low-light and moving subjects is very tricky and can provide a headache for the less experienced. But it is without a doubt the more challenging environments that give you the strongest results and I’ll always be a firm believer in that.


In all this was fairly simple shoot, with some let downs however I will not complain at all. I managed to produce one of the finest images I’ve ever taken so I’m more than thankful for that!

Sean Strange


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