In a previous post, I mentioned that I was heading to NAF El Centro in California for a photo shoot. The main part of the shoot was going to be on the base. It was due to commence at noon. That left a free morning. El Centro has a couple of good locations off base where you can photograph the aircraft and one is better suited to morning shooting since the light is good for departing aircraft and those breaking into the pattern.
I was ready for an early start and got out as the early departures were underway. Not only was this a good spot to shoot from, it was also a good gathering spot for some of us going on base later so it served multiple purposes.
There was a fair amount of morning activity. The majority of traffic was from T-45 Goshawk from NAS Meridian who were deployed to El Centro for training. The local ranges provide opportunities for basic weapons training but other missions as also flown including some field carrier landing practice (FCLP).
Hornets and Super Hornets from the west coast training squadron were also operating and provided a regular stream of departing and arriving traffic. The Canadian forces were also operating Hornets from the base. They tend to depart reasonably straight out and break into the pattern a little early but sometimes come into a good location for shooting. When they are weapons training, though, they always come to the end of the runway to make all weapons safe so we get a good view. They had also brought a C-130 tanker with them which was a nice addition.
A couple of C-2 Greyhounds were practicing their pattern work to mix it up. Helicopter traffic included some AH-1 Cobras from the Marines transiting and a British Army Apache although they stayed well to the south so were not something I could get any shots of.