Aircraft enthusiasts were out in force yesterday evening to check out something that has become a familiar and striking sight over recent months.
The huge RAF C-17 Globemaster aircraft could be seen in the skies over Solihull and Warwickshire and other parts of the Midlands on Wednesday evening (August 5).
Used for combat, peacekeeping or humanitarian missions worldwide, the C-17 Globemaster is capable of transporting up to 100,000lb of freight more than 8,334km while flying at altitudes above 35,000ft.
The aircraft’s flights are part of training exercises from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, which notifies people of the Globemaster’s movements via social media.
Writing on its Facebook page yesterday RAF Brize Norton said: “This evening, our C-17 Globemaster aircraft is expected to be operating in the vicinity of Birmingham, whilst engaged in essential training.”
Increased sightings of the aircraft during the coronavirus lockdown prompted intense social media speculation that its flights were somehow connected with the pandemic but that is not the case.
The reason for the flights are fairly straightforward and have nothing to do with the ongoing fight against coronavirus.
Back in June RAF Brize Norton revealed the flights were normal RAF operations, from the 99 Squadron.
It said: “These are necessary, routine, flights and not connected with RAF support to the UK’s fight against coronavirus.”
It is understood that such flights are used to ensure that RAF crews remain safe and qualified to fly.
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Previously, Birmingham Airport has told CoventryLive that civilian airfields are often used for such purposes.
There were plenty of sightings of the Globemaster yesterday, though sadly some missed it due to cloud cover.
Writing on the RAF Brize Norton Facebook page Darren Clark said: “Just watched it light up the clouds on a final approach over the JLR works.”
Shane Hughes said: “I have seen it circulating around Solihull area, practicing landing and take offs.
Tristan Smith said: “Seen about 19.50 going over M6.”
Writing on the Brize Norton page today Chess Emily said: “Me and my little boy loved watching last night over bhx.”
Further north in Bloxwich cloud cover precluded a clear view of the plane but it still made an impact.
Doug Howard wrote: “Thanks for the fly past over Bloxwich just now but low cloud meant we could only see your shadow kids were amazed though.”
You can find out more about the C-17 Globemaster’s flights and other movements from the airbase here.