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U.S.-UK flyover commemorates 8th Air Force 80th anniversary

  • Published
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa

Two B-1B Lancers from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. participated in a long-distance, roundtrip flight from the United States to the United Kingdom to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Eighth Air Force, Feb. 1, 2022.

Air Force Global Strike Command strategic bombers were joined by Royal Air Force F-35 aircraft and U.S. Air Force F-15 aircraft from RAF Lakenheath over the RAF Duxford area. Duxford houses Europe’s largest air museum and was once home to an Eighth Air Force P-51 unit.

“The Eighth Air Force has a long, rich history that dates back to World War II,” said Maj. Gen. Andrew Gebara, Eighth Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center commander. “Not only does this flight signify the longevity and reach of the United States’ bomber force, but it also pays tribute to our closest Ally, the United Kingdom. Eighth Air Force has had a close relationship with the Royal Air Force since its beginning.”

The modern day Eighth Air Force traces its lineage back to VIII Bomber Command, established on February 1, 1942, at Langley Field, Virginia. That same month, VIII Bomber Command moved to England, first to Daws Hill and later to High Wycombe, where it established its wartime headquarters in the Wycombe Abbey School. On February 22, 1944, the Army reorganized its Air Forces in Europe by renaming Eighth Air Force as the United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe – the VIII Bomber Command officially became Eighth Air Force.

Eighth Air Force earned the name, “The Mighty Eighth,” due to its size and strength during WWII. By mid-1944, the unit had more than 200,000 members. At its peak, the Mighty Eighth could dispatch more than 1,000 four-engine bombers and varieties of fighter aircraft on a single mission if need be.

“For 80 years, bomber operations have remained a vital component to U.S. strategic forces,” said Gebara.

Today, Bomber Task Force (BTF) missions, both deployed and those operating from home station, can be seen in every area across the globe. BTFs, like the one at RAF Duxford, demonstrate the U.S. Air Force’s unique ability to rapidly deploy and integrate with NATO Allies and coalition partners.

For operational inquiries, please contact USAFE Public Affairs at +49 (0) 6371-47-6558 or via e-mail at usafepao.pao@us.af.mil. For anniversary or heritage inquiries, please contact Mr. Justin Oakes, Public Affairs Director at justin.oakes@us.af.mil