For 50 years RAF Fylingdales has looked outwards to protect the Western world from potential threats, but on Wednesday the eyes of the world turned to the base as it celebrated half a century of operations.
For the first time, the restricted airspace above the base became a flash of colour as the Red Arrows conducted a display, at times appearing to swoop lower than the 140-foot tall radar tower.
As part of the celebrations, the base invited a number of guests to share the day, including veterans and members of the Whitby community.
Station Commander Rayna Owens said: “It’s about recognising 50 years of combined UK and US operations.
“I like to think that I have a pretty unique unit and we wanted to celebrate today with not only our leadership but also with our friends, families and contractors that support us and those people that have worked with us over the last 50 years.”
Whitby mayor John Freeman, who has twice been commissioned to create paintings at important landmarks for the base, said: “It has been brilliant. A bit chilly, but then again Fylingdales is Fylingdales and it’s been a very impressive day.”
Jokingly, some asked where the aliens were stored, and Captain David Little, of the US Navy, said: “Don’t you wonder sometimes, what are the secrets you don’t know? I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff here that they are not allowed to talk about and imagination sometimes gets the best of us.”
To celebrate the anniversary and in recognition of the conservation work that takes place on the base, three rowan trees were planted, with Lt Gen Parent joining Air Vice Marshall Stuart Atha and the North York Moors’ Jim Bailey adding the finishing touches.
A small memorial given by Paul Craven of Aislaby Quarry was unveiled at the centre of the trees.
Mr Bailey said: “As well as the big job that they do, I would like to thank them for the little job they do, that of conversation on the moor.”
With the NORAD agreement signed in perpetuity, RAF Fylingdales is set to continue its vital missions in missile detection and the monitoring of space for many years to come.