The recent ISAP symposium took me to Norfolk VA. It is a short drive to Virginia Beach and NAS Oceana – the home of the east coast fighter squadrons for the US Navy. The field trip for the symposium was going to include a visit to Oceana but, since I was there ahead of the event, I decided to pay a quick visit after my arrival. A slight delay due to travel complications and then the passing through of a pretty significant storm meant I was a little later than planned but no great problems resulted.
The weather was not great so the light was a bit sparse. Combined with a cloudy sky, photographing grey jets is always a challenge but I was meeting up with a friend from FenceCheck.com who lives locally so there was always time to chat even if nothing was happening. However, after a pretty quiet period, a few more jets got up and started flying. I was supposed to be leaving to go and pick up a friend from the airport but the storm that I had come through was not alone and his inbound flight was significantly delayed. Therefore, I had the time to see what else would fly.
The activity kept going for a bit was the light was fading fast and my ISO settings were getting higher and higher. Since the time to pick up my friend was now approaching, I decided to pack up my stuff. Another jet arrived as I did so. This didn’t bother me until I realized it was one of the CONA painted aircraft so the kit was rapidly extracted again and a few shots taken. Then it really was time to go.
Thanks for the advice on the spot to those concerned and also for the chance to catch up. Maybe not the most ideal conditions but still a fun way to kill an hour or two.
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.
All of this gave us an idea of what was on base and provided some good shooting opportunities from a different position to that we would get later in the day.