Tag Archives: california

T-45s at El Centro

My involvement with the T-45 program was back when the aircraft were just coming into service.  Now I am reading articles discussing the US Navy’s plan for the replacement of the Goshawk fleet.  Another type I have been involved with that is going to disappear from service before too long.  Since the jet was never exported, when the Navy gets rid of them, that will be it.  Consequently, while I have shot T-45s at various places and times before, getting some more shots while on our trip was worthwhile.

We made a detour from our Arizona locations to El Centro to catch the Harriers.  El Centro is a regular haunt of the T-45s with the training wings sending jets out to use the ranges just north of the base.  Since it is not too far to travel, you can watch them launch and know it won’t be too long before they return.  Getting the departing jets as they break towards the south with the last jet cutting the corner the most to catch up with the first ones is easy enough.  The returns give you an option at both ends with either the overhead break with speedbrakes out at one end or the final turn at the other.  Managed to catch both.  I am sure I will see more T-45s in the coming years but here are some shots from the recent visit.

Doesn’t Everyone Have a Hornet by the Front Door?

When deciding on what garden furniture to have, there are many options.  You could have some garden gnomes, maybe a stone lion, all sorts of possibilities.  Most of these are because most people don’t have access to a fast jet.  If you do, and the California Science Center does, you’d stick a Hornet outside the front door.  It was in the shade from the building in the morning I was there, but I thought it provided just the right amount of gravitas.

Water Treatment Plant by the Pacific

The departure from LAX takes you out over the Pacific on most occasions.  As you climb out and reach the shoreline, just south of your track is a large water treatment plant.  Oceanfront property would be in high demand, I imagine, but this spot is taken with a far more functional purpose.  The size and shapes involved are quite fascinating to me and I couldn’t resist getting some images as we flew by.

The Harriers Really Are Here

While Mark and I were in Arizona, we were talking about the sighting of Harriers down at El Centro.  Harriers are getting pretty rare these days and the Marines only operate them on the east coast at this point.  A detachment to this side of the country is of interest!  We debated the merits of a drive across to El Centro and decided to go for it.  We left Tucson mid morning and got to El Centro in early afternoon.  A quick drive around the south of the base saw one Harrier out in the open.  We could hear it too but, before too long, all had gone quiet – at least as far as Harriers are concerned.

As the day wore on, we were beginning to wonder whether we had been mistaken or just unlucky when a call came up on the radio of what sounded like a Harrier call sign.  A flight of four.  The daylight was beginning to get a little thin, so it was quite late to be going out but, since they have night attack avionics, no reason for them to be limited to daylight only.  Sure enough, we soon see a four ship of Harriers taxiing to the departure end.

The four of them launch in stream and, while they didn’t turn towards us when we would have liked them to, they did keep it low enough to get some nice shots.  One of the jets even had some color.  With them off, we decided to head around to the other side of the base to hopefully get their return.  Not long after we got there, one appeared overhead and alone venting fuel.  Clearly something was amiss, and it was making an early return.  A long straight in approach was best for them if not us!  Then we waited.  Unfortunately, it became clear that they would not be back before it got dark, so we eventually gave up and started our return journey.

Hawk and the Moon

My El Centro wildlife encounters continued after the owls had been photographed.  A hawk showed up on a utility pole close to us at one point and, since no jets were landing, I was happy to take its photo.  Then I realized that the moon was rising not far away, and a short movement allowed me to bring the two into closer alignment.  With the long lens, the focus depth was narrow, so I took shots of the bird and shots of the moon.  When I got home, a little focus stacking allowed me to make both sharp to show how it looked to me at the time I was there.

LA Architecture

My work trips to LA were mainly spent in the office but we did go out sometimes to get some lunch.  As we walked through the downtown, I got more of a look at this area than I have had before.  The buildings in the heart of downtown are often quite old and have some nice architectural styles.  Many have been either well maintained or refurbished more recently and they look very nice.

We went through an arcade of shops and food outlets when getting lunch one time.  It had a lovely look to it.  The architectural finishes on the outsides of buildings were good too.  One of the buildings has been converted into an Apple Store.  The inside of that was remarkably grand.  I wonder how many people come in to buy products and how many are just checking the building out like us?

Container Ships Arriving in the Bay Area

Another selection of old images from a trip to Alcatraz with the family before we actually moved to the Bay Area.  We were on the ferry coming back from the island and there were some large container ships entering the bay heading, presumably, to Oakland to offload.  The Bay Area got some sizable container ships having the capability to handle the largest of the ships in use.  These were not that large, but they were still chunky beasts.  Seeing them from the water helps you to appreciate their size a little more.

Downtown LA in the Gloom

Work took me to Los Angeles a couple of times early in 2024.  On neither occasion did the weather do me many favors.  The second trip was very wet but the first was more gloomy than anything else.  As I was walking back to the hotel one evening after we had finished our work, I was taken by the way in which the skyscrapers were disappearing into the mist.  I only had my phone with me, but it does a decent job in lower light conditions.

Owls in the California Desert

I have been getting photos of owls a bit recently with the shorties making their winter stay up in Skagit County.  However, when Mark and I headed to El Centro, it was planes rather than owls that we were after.  I knew that they were around there because other friends have posted shots of them in the past, but they weren’t something I was thinking about.  However, as Mark was driving us along a dirt road near the base, I saw one sitting ride by the road.

Trying not to spook it, Mark was able to grab my camera from the back seat and pass it to me so I could shoot out of the window.  The owl seemed unimpressed and stayed exactly where it was.  After a few shots we moved on but there was another a short distance away.  Same result as it wasn’t too bothered by the car.  A bit further still and another one.  This one was either standing on one leg with the other tucked up or just only had the one leg.  I can’t tell.  Again, it obliged as I took some shots.  Three owls in a short distance seemed like a pretty lucky run of things.

Into the Clouds Approaching LAX

I have had a couple of work trips that took me to LA in the recent past (how recent may depend on when this gets posted), and the weather has not been great for either of them.  The second one coincided with some pretty horrendous weather for the region and our approach to LAX was a pretty bumpy one.  We actually landed from the ocean side which is pretty unusual for LAX.  The crew prepared the cabin for landing early and I decided the view of the cloud tops from the storm were worthy of video rather than stills.  Here is the resulting video of our approach.