El Centro Photocall 2012

By: Category: EventsMilitaryRoad tripsSpotting


Naval Air Facility El Centro provides a great training facility to active and reserve Navy Units. Marines use the base and its surrounding ranges throughout the year as well. The surrounding desert and the climate that comes with it create a perfect location for training aircrews. Since El Centro has no assigned aircraft to their base.  This gives us photographers a variety of aircraft to obtain a photo there were T-45s, EA-6 Prowlers, F/A-18 Super and Legacy Hornets, and there was a Marine Aerial Refueler from the Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR-352) “Raiders”. El Centro is the temporary home for 1366 military personnel from the British Army, Royal Air Force, US Navy, and US Marine Corps, training with Lynx, Merlin, Chinook, H-60, and H-46 helicopters, T-45s, EA-6Bs, and four models of the F/A-18 Hornet.

Public Affairs Officer Michelle Dee and Deputy PA officer Kristopher Haugh had prepared an excellent schedule for our visit. NAF El Centro hosts about bi-annually a ‘photocall’ event for photographers from various aviation media organizations. A group of about 15 photographers from each organization is allowed to attend this photocall bringing the total to about 45 photographers.

So the date was set for the last week in October. Being this was PHXSpotters first Photocall invite we were given a couple of spots for our members. After our members went through a background check, we got the thumbs up two weeks prior to the photocall. So the day of the photocall several photographers from several different aviation photography communities met outside the base to watch the departures of the military aircraft as they ripped through the clear blue sky. This weather was going to make a perfect day to take some photos.

Once assembled at the base, Deputy PAO officer Kristopher Haugh met the group of 45 photographers just outside the base to do roll call.  That is when we were escorted to a staging area where we could use the restrooms. It would be a couple hours before we have a chance to use them again. When everyone had their camera and video equipment all in place we were given the standard safety briefing and instruction along with a welcome from the base’s PAO officer, Michelle. We were also introduced to Kris, the Deputy PAO officer and a few other Naval personnel who would be overseeing us out on the runways. Rules were simple.. basically don’t do anything dangerous that would risk you, personnel, aircraft, or property on the base and follow all the rules of the personnel that were overseeing us throughout the day. We were also told to keep an eye out for any FOD (Foreign Object Damage, basically anything that can get sucked up into a Jet Intake and cause damage such as wrappers, hats, glasses, etc) and make sure we have hearing protection.

Now it was time for the Photographers to find their spots. Although we are allowed to move up and down the side of the runway. We all had our own visions of what photos we wanted to obtain. Since I am a huge fan of prop blur, I was super excited to see the KC-130J Super Hercules from the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR-352) “Raiders. So I moved further down the runway to catch her doing her “touch and goes”. So after about 4 hours of being five feet away from all the military aircrafts, it was time for us to all pack up our gear and return to the buses. We were able to stop by the main exchange so that the group could purchase patches or t-shirts.

PHXSpotters wished to send our debt of gratitude to the following staff members at NAF El Centro for allowing us to participate in our first Photocall a complete success.

– Capt Devon Jones, Commanding Officer, NAF El Centro
– Ms. Michelle Dee, Public Affairs Officer
– Mr. Kristopher Haugh, Deputy Public Affairs Officer
– MC1 William Larned, Navy Region Southwest
– AC2 Nicholas Sanchez
– MA3 Jordan Reckmann
– MASN Oronde Vassell

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