Kevin Burtt, aircraft mechanic returns to Alconbury Weald after 30 years
Kevin Burtt, aircraft mechanic for USAF based at RAF Alconbury from 1988-1993, returned after 30 years to take a tour of his former workplace – the Avionics Building - during the Heritage Open Day at Alconbury Weald on 9 September 2023.
The Grade II listed building, which was used to process intelligence data collected by the TR-1 reconnaissance aircraft during the Cold War, is encased by a hardened concrete shell designed to protect it from chemical and biological attack. Kevin, who visited with his wife Theresa, lived at the RAF base until they married in 1992 and moved to Godmanchester.
On returning to the site after 30 years, Kevin said that the Avionics Building “felt like it has just stopped in time”, although he remarked at “how quiet the building was” compared with when it was operational; with the machinery on, the airflow system operating and people working.
He recalled that some days were very busy, while some were much quieter – especially on windy days when the planes could not fly – and how they played cricket or softball in one of the hangars or on the taxiway to pass the time.
Kevin mainly worked night shifts and was part of the team responsible for repairing returning aircraft, so they were ready for their next mission. Twelve TR-1s were based at RAF Alconbury, flying intelligence missions over Eastern Europe, close to Soviet airspace. Most of Kevin’s work took place in the nearby hardened aircraft shelters. He explained that the basement level of the Avionics Building housed the machinery to keep the facility operational as well as offices and the breakroom, while the ground floor level was for specialist equipment to enable the information captured to be processed from the noise of the aircraft and analysed.
Kevin and Theresa are looking forward to returning with their son next year, to show him where his father worked and share some stories from Kevin’s time at RAF Alconbury.
Image credit - Kevin Burtt, aircraft mechanic for USAF based at RAF Alconbury from 1988-1993, returned with his wife Theresa after 30 years to take a tour of the Avionics Building - a unique Cold War era military bunker – as part of the Heritage Open Days event at Alconbury Weald (9 September 2023).