When the arrivals at Nellis on on the 03 runways, it means a trip to Cheyenne. This is not the greatest part of the world to visit but it is a feature of a Nellis trip. The sun angles were still quite low while I was there so I decided to try shooting from further around the road than I have done previously. For the planes coming in on the left runway, I had a reasonable sun angle on them. For planes on the right, they were coming right over my head.
I quite liked shooting like this. The planes have a surprising amount of variety in their line up angles when this far from the threshold so, while they are all coming close to you, it is not a repeat of the same shot every time. Each pilot takes a slightly different line and some variation in elevation too. You get something akin to head on shots and then it is a case of rapidly swiveling around to get a shot from behind.
There is a lot of fencing and trees along that part of the road so getting a clean shot of everything is hard to achieve. However, it is still possible to get something a little different. With the light angles being less than ideal, rather than worry about shots that aren’t going to be very usable due to either glare or shadow, why not get something a little different. It does require some quick adjustments and it can get a touch noisy but it is still fun to try something a little different.
Shooting at Nellis always requires choices to be made. Aside from determining which end you will go to, there is the question about how far up you will go at the Speedway. Some jets turn very tight, others turn long. Some departing jets flex, some flex more tightly than others. Where to go? Paul and I headed up near Gate 7 to see whether we would do alright. As it happened, quite a few of the jets were flexing right overhead us. This didn’t provide the sort of shots we had originally envisaged but, as it turned out, I was rather pleased with the different look.
I was getting some very head on shots of some of the aggressor F-16s as the turned towards the ranges. There was even a bit of moisture in the air and the vortices over the root extensions were showing up. That angle has a very dynamic look, even though the lighting in that location is not great for such an angle. The other benefit was as they had passed overhead. You got a close look at the top side of the jet from behind as they flew away. It might not have been what we intended but I was rather pleased with the outcome anyway.
Iraq places an order for F-16s a number of years ago. The first aircraft were not initially delivered to the country but instead went to Tucson to set up a training unit. There are still some aircraft there being used to train new Iraqi pilots. Soon the remaining jets will head to Iraq following those that have already been delivered. I hadn’t seen them before since this all happened since my last visit to Tucson. They operate from Tucson International, alongside the ANG unit and the Dutch training unit.
We had a few movements of the Iraqi jets while I was there and these were, apparently, some of the newer jets to have been delivered. They have adopted a different camouflage pattern to the normal F-16 scheme so it is easier to recognize it is them as they approach. I doubt I will be back before they leave the country so this was one of the few times I will likely see these jets.
An Iraqi Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon takes off from Tucson International Airport in Arizona.