Tag Archives: Navy

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.

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.

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.

Old and the New in the Pattern Over Whidbey

I was down at Fort Casey on Whidbey Island one sunny afternoon.  I had been to Ault Field first thing in the morning and some of the shots from then will make it on here at some point.  I was down near Coupeville awaiting some FCLP training but, since I had time on my hands, I was wandering down near the shore.  The wind must have changed because some planes from Ault Field were coming down our way as part of their patterns.  One was a P-8 – the latest that the Navy has for maritime patrol – while the other was a P-3 – the type that the P-8 has almost completely replaced in service.  It seemed quite appropriate to have both of them working overhead at the same time.

Shocks On The Sneak Pass

One of the highlights of the Blue Angels’ display is the sneak passes.  The display is good but the sneak pass gets the jets as fast as you are going to get in their routine and there is a chance of vapor cones forming around the shocks and expansion fans.  A display over water enhances the chance of the vapor.  The distance of the display line on Lake Washington was a little disappointing as the jets were quite far away but the advantage of this location was that Mercer Island provided a backdrop.

The benefit of this backdrop was that, the rapid changes in density of the air in the shocks and expansions makes the refractive index change and this will distort the view of the background.  With a clear sky, this is usually not visible but, with a background, you can see the shocks around the airframe.  This is a rare opportunity.  Fortunately, while there was little vapor, there were plenty of shocks.  I was quite happy when I got home and studied the shots of the display to find I had some good results.  It would have been great to have been on the media boat but let’s not complain.

My First Super Hornet Blues Display

Seafair provided me with my first opportunity to shoot the Blue Angels during a display since they transitioned to the Super Hornet.  I was interested to see whether the display seemed any different with the new jets.  Seafair is a nice location over Lake Washington but the alignment of the display box relative to the shore of the lake is not ideal and this does result in the planes being further away than for most venues.  The increased size of the Super Hornet is probably a benefit in this situation.

I was interested whether the larger jets would make things seem a bit slower somehow but I didn’t notice anything in practice to support that idea.  The normal tight flying that the Blues are famous for was there and, if anything, the bigger jets look closer as a result of the changed perspective.  It is not that big a deal, though, so I suspect some of this was in my imagination.  I would like to see them at a different location where the display axis is closer in order to get another view of the display, though.

Aside from watching the display at Lake Washington, I did also Watch them depart and return from Boeing Field.  They always departed to the north and returned from the north even if everything else had been landing from the south.  I spent one arrival down at the south end and watched then run the length of the runway and break for landing.  It was a good spot to watch this from.  Overall, I was happy with the new look for the team.  I hope the jets hold up well.  The Blues have a reputation of having to live with some of the oldest jets in the fleet and reliability will be something to watch.

Blue Angels Super Bugs Get To Seattle

I was at Boeing Field for the arrival of the Blue Angels for Seafair.  It was a work day so I was sitting in the car and actually presenting to some colleagues via a Teams call.  My presentation was underway as they were getting close but it was almost done.  I was hoping that it would all wrap up before they got there. Sadly, I was wrong.  I was on the final section of the presentation when they flew overhead in Delta formation.  I was shut in the car but still had to explain why it had suddenly got so loud at my end.

Fortunately, that was the end of the meeting and I was able to get out of the car in time for the arrival of the individual jets for landing.  I did get to see the Delta arrival again later in the weekend but I am not sure whether it is my imagination or not but it seemed lower and closer on that first occasion when I was sitting in the car with no camera.

Super Bugs At BFI

Stopping for lunch at BFI, I was happy to be informed by someone already there that there were a couple of Super Hornets from the US Navy that had departed earlier and were due back shortly.  I was able to munch on my sandwiches and do a little work while I waited but it wasn’t too long before they arrived.  Initially, they appeared to be making a section approach but, as they got closer to the field, the separated and came in with about a 30 second spacing.  One of the jets had some squadron colors which is always welcome these days.  Not a dynamic approach but still a nice surprise.

Pacific Fleet Home At Esquimalt

Across the water from Fort Rodd Hill is the Canadian naval base of Esquimalt.  This is the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet for the navy.  From where we were, you could see some of the ships in the harbor.  There were a few small patrol boats that were in use but the larger ships were tied up.