I was ready to leave Middle Wallop when a look at ADSB told me that a Gazelle was operating in the vicinity. The Gazelles are becoming a rarity these days so this seemed worth waiting for. After a while, it vanished from ADSB and I was beginning to think it had landed elsewhere. Fortunately, it popped up again, very close this time. I was coming straight for me. Unfortunately, it turned south and skirted around the airfield. I could just see it in the distance.
Then it climbed up to the east before turning and conducting an autorotation to the field. It landed away from me and beyond a ridge so out of sight. I moved back to the balcony to see if I could see anything and was rewarded with it taxiing across the field in the distance. It wasn’t long before it was behind the fencing heading to its ramp. Still, while not a close encounter, it might be the last time I see one in UK service.
Chino is full of surprises. There are many hangars and many unusual things contained in them. A friend showed me a shot of a Jaguar T4 that was in one of them – I was disappointed to not see that myself. As I was walking back towards the parking with a fellow shooter, we came across a hangar with a Gazelle in it. The guy cleaning out the hangar floor invited us in. It was a French Army Gazelle, still equipped with many electronic boxes from its military role and showing the mounting point on the side of the fuselage where HOT anti-tank missiles were once mounted. He flies it regularly and says it has been immaculately maintained over its service life. It certainly looks great.