Tag Archives: USN

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.

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.

I Should Just Enjoy the Old Pods

I have seen some pictures recently of Growlers bouncing at Coupeville with the latest jamming pods on the underwing pylons.  I was hoping that the jets I saw from the Rooks might be carrying the new pods.  Instead, they were using the older pods.  At first, I was disappointed by this but then I realized that this was the wrong way to look at things.  The new pods will be around for a long time and the chances are I will see them a lot in the future.  Making sure I have some shots of the older pods on jets as the bounce is something to make the most of before they are gone.  We only miss stuff when it is going away so time to think ahead.

CAG Growler is Clean

A trip to Coupeville is always going to be a bit hit or miss.  Will the weather play ball, will the jets show up, how much will they bounce, how many of them will there be, will they be RAG jets or operational squadrons?  All sorts of options.  I was really happy that the weather suited a pattern direction that was better for photography, but it was mainly cloudy so not quite as good-looking light.  It was the Rooks of VAQ137 that were bouncing so that was cool, and they brought their CAG jet.  Getting this in its nice colors was cool.  The jet was operating clean which was slightly disappointing but, fortunately, the other jets that came in were carrying pods.

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.

Sunny FCLP With a Color Jet

With a nice forecast, the wind in the right direction and an indication of some operations, I figured a day off was worthwhile and headed up to Coupeville to see if I could get some Growler operations.  I was pleased to see the fire trucks getting ready when I arrived, and that the meatball was at the north end.  Looked like I was going to be in luck.  Yes and no!  I did get some ops and plenty of patterns but only a couple of jets actually showed up.  Fortunately, one of them was a squadron color jet so I was able to get a bunch of shots to play with.  I also shot a load of video so here is the edit of that too.  Could have been a busier day but they finished up and the crews headed off so I did the same.

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.