NAF El Centro in California can be very quiet and at other times very busy, and it’s usually pot-luck on what you’ll find. With WTI in operation at Yuma there was a good chance of some action however.
Following on from the Chasing Helicopters blogGAR this short piece will concentrate on some of the fixed wing assets seen during two and-a-half days outside the base.
The US Marine Corps were in town, which is always nice to see. VMFA-115 ‘Silver Eagles’ based at MCAS Beaufort, SC were the first to launch.
They were swiftly followed by VMFA(AW)-533 aircraft carrying live ordinance. This unit is also based at MCAS Beaufort.
We always hope that aircraft perform a turn at the end of the runway, and many did co-operate, including the EA-6Bs.
Morning shooting can be done at either the departing or arrivals end and the first day I chose to stay at the departure end until the light became tricky later.
The following day I started at the arrivals end to shoot some taxiing aircraft.
After shooting a full day of departures, you’ll usually see the same aircraft day after day, so variety can be good.
The hi-viz EA-6B from VAQ-219 decided to depart out on a test flight and luckily I managed to shoot it taxiing and arriving back.
We decided to take a drive out to NAS North Island in the afternoon, and I’ll post those photos in a future blog.
El Centro also gets its fair share of gas-and-go traffic which often utilise the hot pits before departing again, plus it gets aircraft coming over to bounce in the pattern.
You’ll almost never fail to see a C-2 in the circuit here, and anything else can turn up unannounced.
My final day and I was only due to shoot in the the morning, and we’d heard that VMFA(AW)-533 were due to depart for home at sunrise. The color bird hadn’t flown at all and luckily we caught it departing, although the sun was only just peeking above the horizon. You get what you get.
It’s always nice to see T-45C aircraft carrying the small bombs. For some reason it looks kind of out of character for a trainer, but it suits the aircraft in my eyes anyway.
Another successful yearly visit to El Centro concluded.