Tag Archives: ault field

Some P-8s But Not Many Markings

A trip to Whidbey Island at the end of last year resulted in some encounters with the local P-8 Poseidons.  The disappointment was that they weren’t exactly showing off loads of unit markings.  With one exception, they were rather anonymous.  I’m not sure whether they had been recently received and were later to get squadron emblems or not.  I hope so.  Fortunately, the light was nice at that time of year so I got some images I was pleased with.

Not Many P-3s Left So This Was a Treat

When my friend Paul first told me he was going to be in Seattle over the holidays, I thought we wouldn’t be able to get together.  However, circumstances changed, and it turned out we could go out and check out the local aviation scene.  We had been getting some stuff locally but a check on ADSB showed a P-3 and an EP-3 out at Whidbey Island and we debated whether to make the run north.  In the end, we went for it.  The EP-3 had been out a while already and it did return before we got there but we were not going to come up short.  A P-3 made its return with some lovely December sun on it.  It flew a bunch of patterns which meant the chance to try different spots to get some images, so we were rather pleased with the outcome.

Ault Field Morning Arrivals

I had taken a day off to go to Coupeville earlier this year.  Since I was heading to Whidbey Island for the day, I went to Ault Field at the beginning of the day to see if there was any traffic.  I went to Moran Beach to see if anything was coming in when the light is still favorable in that location.  I actually got pretty lucky.  There were a bunch of Growlers already up and about and they were recovering before I had to move off.  Some squadron jets including some in special schemes were coming in.  Recovering overhead me while others were on the approach, it felt pretty busy.  Here are some of the shots from that morning.

Clippers Bashing the Circuit

A visit from my buddy Paul was a good reason for a day off and a trip to Whidbey Island.  We had some ideas about what we wanted to see but anything was going to be good.  The weather was nice so we were in luck.  One thing we got a lot of that I was not expecting was C-40 Clipper traffic.  Two of the jets were out and about.  They weren’t just moving people around though.  They were clearly getting some training in as they flew pattern work for a long time.  We were able to get shots of them multiple times.

Talk to Me Goose – Oh That’s Right, You Can’t

Top Gun 2 is in production at the moment.  There has been much activity around the Super Hornets on the west coast and their involvement in the film with one jet getting photographed a bit in Pete Mitchell’s colors.  What I didn’t know was that the production has been on the road.  While up at Whidbey Island we saw a Super Bug launching towards us.  Based Growlers are of interest and Super Bugs less so but we still shot it.  As it got closer, it was clearly painted up differently and we realized we had Maverick’s plane in frame.  It flew a straight out departure and we didn’t see it return before we left but it was kind of a pleasant surprise to get it at all!

Lots of P-3s, or One P-3 Lots of Times

Paul and I headed to Whidbey Island on the hunt.  We would be happy to shoot a variety of stuff but P-3s were the goal.  Whidbey still has them but they are disappearing fast so get what we can.  As it turned out, we got a ton of P-3 action but it was all with the same plane.  It flew a bunch of circuits after returning from a training sortie and then finally landed.  However, it wasn’t done.  A crew change and they were back up.  That plane got some use that day.  We could hear another engine running but it obviously wasn’t going flying.  Here are lots of shots of one specific P-3 instead!

Drop Tank By the Road

Sometimes you find the oddest things by the road.  Just outside NAS Whidbey Island, there is a drop tank sitting by the road.  I have no idea what it is doing there.  It seems to be on someone’s yard.  The shape was not something that looked like a Navy tank (which you might expect). I thought it looked like something from an F-111.  Fortunately, It had a data plate which showed a serial that seems to suggest a Fort Worth General Dynamics product so I guess F-111 is probably it.  Anyone know the story?

The End of the Day is Always Better

How many times in this blog have I commented on the nice light at the end of the day being the provider of my best shots.  It isn’t just about the shot though.  Stuff just looks better (hence the better shots) when the sun is low.  Mark and I had spent a good day at Coupeville and then at Ault Field but, as the evening was beginning to draw in, we knew a few jets had launched earlier and were due back.  As a result, we anticipated some nice arrivals.  Mark had also scoped out a better spot for the final turn the jets would be making.

It wasn’t long before we heard some calls on the approach frequency and so we headed to the new location.  Our first trade was not the jets we had expected though.  Some maritime patrol training was done and a couple of aircraft were making straight in approaches.  A P-8 and a P-3 were welcome additions.  They may not have been flying particularly interesting approaches but we would have taken them at any time and in this light all was good.

Then the Growlers showed up.  The flew some nice curving approaches around us and the evening light was illuminating their topsides in a great way.  Clearly these were going to be the shots of the day that we were most happy with.  Not only that but they did the decent thing and didn’t land straight away.  Instead, a couple of patterns meant we got a good chance to get some shots of them.  Once they were down, the radio was quiet and we both had drives home to make so we called it a day.  (Sadly, as I got on to I-5 to head south, a C-5 flew over me heading in what appeared to be the direction of Whidbey.  That would have arrived in gorgeous light as it looked really nice as it passed over me!)

P-3s Coming Out of the Sun

When Ault Field is operating on 25, the aircraft taxi out to the departure end along a taxiway that gradually brings them into view from the crash gate.  The sound will usually precede them and, in the case of the P-3s, that is a pretty distinctive sound.  As the day wears on, they are coming at you out of the sun so a bit more silhouetted but that helps to make them look more interesting.  They pull around to the hold point, sometimes mixing in with the Growlers before departing off to the west.  This is a sight that will soon be gone as the P-8s take over.