Tony Foulds meets RAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath aircrew behind Mi Amigo flypast
Aircrews from RAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall who participated in last month’s Mi Amigo flypast were thanked in person this week by the man who inspired it.
More than 10,000 gathered in Sheffield’s Endcliffe Park to see planes in action to mark 75 years since an American bomber crashed during conflict, killing ten crew.
Tony Foulds witnessed the B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed Mi Amigo, fall from the sky in 1944 - and dreamed of a flypast to honour it.
The 82-year-old said he owes his life to the crew who managed to swerve and avoid him and his friends as they played in a field. Since then, he has tended a memorial to them in Sheffield, where he lives.
The BBC stepped in to help organise the flypast following a chance meeting between Mr Foulds and Breakfast presenter Dan Walker.
Lakenheath and Mildenhall airbases both sent aircraft for the event, which was covered by international media - and showed Mr Foulds shed a tear as he watched.
“It was clear from the moment Mr Foulds arrived just how excited he was, and it was incredible to see the excitement from our team as well.
His family later got in touch to ask if he could say thank you in person, and last week he visited the 100th Air Refuelling Wing at Mildenhall before making the six mile journey west.
RAF Lakenheath, which hosts American planes and airmen, contributed F-15 Strike Eagles to the flyover.
A spokesman commented: “It was clear from the moment Mr Foulds arrived just how excited he was, and it was incredible to see the excitement from our team as well.
“Tony has definitely achieved celebrity status with our airmen.
“Throughout his visit people would stop and ask to take selfies.”
A spokesman from RAF Mildenhall added: “We were proud to take the opportunity to participate in this event to honour some of the fallen.
“We want to recognise their sacrifice and demonstrate the relationship between the two countries.”
At Lakenheath, Mr Foulds was presented with a commemorative lithograph signed by the eight aircrew members who took part in the flypast.
The spokesman added: "We are grateful Tony took the time to visit with us and for giving us a chance to say thank you in person on behalf of our countrymen whose memories he keeps alive."