NAF El Centro Winter Photocall 2013

POSTED IN Featured Articles / February 25th, 2013

NAF El Centro, CA

click picture above to play video

Naval Air Facility El Centro holds a PhotoCall twice a year and AIRSHOWVID.COM was allowed to attend the first Photocall of 2013.  El Centro is unique for its friendly outreach to the aviation photography community.  Very few military bases allow civilians the level of access during flight operations as NAF El Centro.  As a bonus, we were allowed access to watch the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels practice for their 2013 airshow season.

NAF El Centro is the Blue Angels winter training ground and the Blues were hard at work perfecting their flight demonstration performance while we were there.  The Blue Angels practice five days a week with a minimum of two full practice flights a day.  We watched for an hour as the Blues perfected their routines.  In some cases the Blues repeated a maneuver if they did not meet the high standards set for that part of the display.

After the Blue Angels completed their afternoon training flight, we were off to runway 26 at the far side of the base.  Runway 26 is where carrier landings are practiced. The runway is complete with an LSO or Landing Signal Officer shack and arresting cable.  We were given permission to stand right up to the “White Line Of Death” as it was called during our safety briefing.  No other Naval facility allows civilians this close to aircraft during landing and takeoff operations.

click picture above to play video

(Above) EA-6B Prowler from VAQ-129 “Vikings”

Flight operations soon hit full tempo, this time with FA-18 Hornets and their bigger brothers the FA-18 Super Hornets.  NAF El Centro has no permanent squadron assigned to the base.  All the aircraft you see here are what the base calls transients or guest squadrons that stay for as little as a few hours to as long as a couple of months like the Blue Angels.   We were lucky on this day to see two V-22 Osprey fly in to refuel then give us a show as they depart (see video below of V-22 Osprey).  This Photocall was the largest NAF El Centro has held with over 70 photographers, some coming from as far away as the East Coast of the United States.   

 

click picture above to play video

(Above) F/A-18 Growler from VAQ-129 ”Vikings” ready for touch and go

 T-45 Goshawk Landing

(Above) T-45 Goshawk the Navy’s advance jet trainer on final for landing at NAF El Centro

 

click picture above to play video

(Above) V-22 Osprey Taking Off After Refueling.

The weather gave everyone challenging lighting conditions to deal with.  Sunlight breaking though the cloud cover then quickly disappearing again then some drops of rain falling during our last hour out on runway 26.  Everyone kept shooting until 5:30PM when it was time for us to leave the base.  The buses did stop on the way out at the base PX for a chance to pick up some one of a kind Blue Angels apparel before dropping us off at our cars.  One of the coolest items we received was a NAF El Centro 2013 Photocall patch (see picture below)

 

NAF EL Centro Patch copy

 Photographers on the line shooting an EA-6B Prowler during carrier landing practice (Below).

EA-6B Prowler and Photographers

 

click picture above to play video

(Above) Blue Angel Dave Tickle waves at the photographers as he taxi out for afternoon practice

We at AIRSHOWVID.COM would like to thank Michelle Dee and Kristopher Haugh at NAF El Centro’s Public Affairs Office for allowing us to join in on this Photocall.   It was a fantastic experience of a lifetime.  We hope the US Navy expands this program to other facilities  in the near future.  

AIRSHOWVID.COM

 

 

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