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Low flying is the talk of Fakenham

PUBLISHED: 22:07 14 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:28 07 July 2010

Richard Parr

It made a change from talking about the credit crunch or the poor summer we have suffered this year.

Rumours of aircraft fuel falling from the skies above Fakenham on Tuesday morning and concerns over low-flying aircraft and noise were on the lips of residents.

It made a change from talking about the credit crunch or the poor summer we have suffered this year.

Rumours of aircraft fuel falling from the skies above Fakenham on Tuesday morning and concerns over low-flying aircraft and noise were on the lips of residents.

The sounds of low-flying military aircraft led to several hours of confusion after USAF Lakenheath moved to deny local radio news bulletins suggesting that the flying and rumoured jettison of fuel was being caused by their F-15 fighter jets.

Later, however, after it had spoken to pilots, the American airbase in Suffolk was forced to come clean and admit that the planes were, in fact, F-15's from its base.

Technical Sergeant Jill Lavoie apologised for the confusion and admitted that the planes were from the American base.

Ms Lavoie strongly denied that the aircraft were dumping fuel and said people on the ground thought that the condensation on the aircraft's wings was fuel when, in fact, it was water.

“Low cloud causes this phenomenon and when we fly at lower levels we always get complaints that we are jettisoning fuel,” she said.

She said that there were 12 F-15 jets involved in a training and communication exercise on Tuesday morning and it was necessary to fly over an urban landscape.

Her colleague and base media spokesman, Staff Sgt Nathan Gallahan, said the jets were training for a forthcoming deployment and ran out of time to move to another location.

“Due to that limited time the pilots had to stay in that area of training around Fakenham. Normally they will fly to an area, complete some training and move on because we do not want to disturb people but we really need this training,” he said.

Michael Fanthorpe - a well known Breckland councillor who runs a hairdresser's in Fakenham - rang the Ministry of Defence to complain about the low flying.

“They could have put lives at risk,” said Mr Fanthorpe, who has been promised a letter of explanation within two weeks.

Sgt Tony Toynton, of Fakenham police, confirmed there had been two complaints about aircraft noise and low-flying but there had been no reports of problems relating to fuel contamination.

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