Hopes for return of popular airshow

HOPES have been lifted that Europe's largest military air show could be resurrected after the new commander of RAF Mildenhall backed the idea.

HOPES have been lifted that Europe's largest military air show could be resurrected after the new commander of RAF Mildenhall backed the idea.

Colonel Eden Murrie became the American airbase's first female chief four months ago after completing a stint at the USAF European command in Belgium.

In her first media interview since being made commander of the 100th Air Refuelling Wing, the 46-year-old from Colorado said she would be looking to try and bring back the Mildenhall air show, which was last held at the base six years ago.

The annual Air Fete, which drew more than 550,000 visitors in 2001 and was estimated to be worth more than £1m to the local economy, was called off as a result of increased operational requirements as a result of the global war on terror and increased security concerns.

But Col Murrie, who oversees between 8,000 and 10,000 US personnel at RAF Mildenhall, yesterday said that relations with the local British community were “good”, but was working to see a return of the military air show during her two year posting in west Suffolk.

“You are aware of the security concerns which forced us to do away with it, but I hope that the air show can come back. We have been looking at it continually and it is something I will be looking at in my time here.”

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“Anything that fosters ties with the community and gives us a chance to show off is something that we would love to bring back to people. I know it meant a lot to the community and meant a lot to the base,” she said.

The master navigator, who graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1984, spent a brief time flying in KC-135 Stratotankers at Mildenhall in 1985 before becoming a training instructor.

Col Murrie, who now lives on base with her airliner pilot husband Jon and 16 year-old daughter Devon, has also worked as a legislative fellow to Senator Joseph Lieberman and been Division Chief of the Programs and Legislation Division at the Pentagon during a glittering 23 year career in the American military.

Col Murrie said she did not see her new job as Mildenhall's first woman commander as “pioneering”, but added that she was looking forward to getting out into the local community after getting to grips with her new responsibilities.

“This is a great base to be and it is an honour to be commander of all these wonderful people. I want to do everything I can to ensure that this base continues its mission, which is a very important mission, and keep up our good relations.

“I think we are doing a good job and all the airmen on base appreciate the community we live in,” she said.

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