NAF El Centro Photocall November 2014

By: Category: MilitaryPhorocallsUncategorized

NAF El Centro Photocall November 2014 By : Sean Moran EL Centro 3     Its November, the holidays are right around the corner which means the sights, sounds and smells of winter, holiday gatherings, just about anything you can think of flavored in pumpkin spice and ……… fighter jets on a military base??   Yes it was that magical time of year again where some of the best photographers around the region gather at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, California to get an amazing opportunity to photograph the Navy’s air command up close and personal. This year the event fell on Thursday the 20th and I was given the chance to attend once again and take part in some amazing photography. Having driven directly from San Francisco the night before, I was a bit tired when I showed up to the base at 9:30AM, but excited to be here nonetheless. We were met by Kris Haugh, the Public Affairs Officer for the base, at around 10:30 and then bussed in by groups shortly after. Arriving at the main building allowed us photographers to get one last chance to use the restroom (no facilities are on the runway) and hear a safety briefing and welcome remarks from the PAO, Executive Officer and Commanding Officer. At 11:15 it was time to head out and having held a “blue card” I was on the first group of busses. Normally in photocalls past, we would station ourselves alongside Runway 26 but the winds had different plans for us and we switched course and headed for the end of Runway 8. For someone who shoots aircraft normally arriving from the East to West, this change in pattern would prove to be somewhat difficult from my normal practice as I soon would find out. We were dropped off and each person stationed themselves at a location right alongside the “white line of death and dismemberment”. For those of you who aren’t as airfield savvy, the white line simply means the edgeline of the runway…yes….they let us be this close to arriving and departing aircraft! Once we were set up, all we had to do was wait, and it wasn’t long before a Harrier was heard over the scanner in approach for refueling. This was a nice surprise given the unique characteristics and design of this aircraft. Shortly thereafter, a pair of T-45 Goshawks taxied in view and set their engines to life and took to the skies. While El Centro is a Navy facility, we were treated to both the Navy and Marine Goshawk aircraft and one in the “Tigers” scheme.   While we were all snapping away, behind us and out of view, the VFA-106 F-18 squadron was getting ready for a day’s worth of practice and soon we could all hear the distinct sound of their engines spooling to life and slowly making their way towards the runway. As an Airport Noise Abatement Analyst by profession, I really enjoy the opportunity to be up close to these magnificent aircraft and being there when they takeoff is only that much better. With that said none of their departures disappointed as the sound-waves pounded the chests and rattled the souls of everyone in attendance.   While the day called for just over 5 hours of photography, it felt like only an hour or so because of all the activity. With a wonderful mix of F-18’s, T-45’s a C-2 Greyhound and a Harrier to add to the mix, coupled with some high level clouds for a backdrop, it was once again a perfect photocall and worth the trip no matter how far some came from…..including a visitor all the way from Germany!

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