Monday, September 29, 2014

Tucson

A rotor wing reunion
The state finally deciding that we had enough money, we had our final drill of the fiscal year this weekend.  This one was unusual for me as I ended up in Tucson nearly the entire weekend.  We were supposed to ferry the Land Component Commander ( a General) around to the range facility in Florance and then to Tuscon, with a return planned in early afternoon.  Unfortunately the weather in Phoenix decided to have another record breaking day, with weather so bad they not only closed Sky Harbor airport, they evacuated the control tower.  Usually the big storms pass through relatively quickly, but this one had staying power which resulted in our VIP passengers electing to take ground transportation rather than wait it out.  (The general pointed to a United 737 waiting on the ramp next to our bird and said words to the effect that they would probably get through.  We pointed out that particular aircraft was diverted from Phoenix.  The passengers sat out there for about three hours before things finally opened up.) Because of duty day limits command decided we should overnight at Tuscon and return the next day.

While there a company of AH-64 Apaches and a couple of CH-47 Chinooks stopped for fuel and lunch.  We had quite the line up there at the airport for a while.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Caught One!

F-35 turning crosswind for Luke AFB
I finally managed to catch one of the new F-35's out of Luke AFB today.  According to the PAO they're now up to 7 aircraft and have just recently passed 100 sorties.  They are a bit louder - they really do remind me of the old J-57 engines, but I don't find them to be any better or worse than the F-16.  Of course I grew up around tactical aviation so some of the neighbors may disagree.  Lately they've been taking off and landing to the south which is a bit unusual for Luke.  I usually get the best look at them as they return from Gila Bend for runway 03L/R. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Korean Memory

Even the tankers were loaded for bear...
OldAFSarge just posted a story that brought back some memories...  This was back in 1976 when we were both E-4's in our respective services, though we hadn't met.  In one of the periodic flare ups that happen with depressing regularity in Korea, a ruckus occurred on the DMZ that ended up in a lethal fight with axes of all things.  This snapshot was taken during our response from the USS Midway to the incident.  During our month of "practice strikes" on Nightmare range; conveniently located near the DMZ we operated pretty much round the clock dropping ordinance.  I remember taking this shot since the aircraft, an A-6A of VA-115 was assigned as a tanker, and you may notice he's carrying 500lb bombs and sidewinder missiles in addition to the refueling equipment.  He brought the missiles and fuel tanks back, but left the bombs on the target.  You should have seen what the aircraft actually assigned to bomb looked like!  As a historical note at the time CAG-5 aboard the Midway had two squadrons of F-4s (VF-151 and VF-161), two of A-7s (VA-56 and VA-93), and an A-6 squadron (VA-115) handling offense.  In a supporting role were VQ-1s EA-3, VMFP-3's RF-4s, VMAQ-2's EA-6s, VAW-115's E-2s, and HC-1's SH-3s.  Not a bad turn out for one ship.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Enjoying the View

On the way to Flagstaff
Here's another photo from the last drill, this one from the trip up to Flagstaff.  We have routes where we do terrain flight up most of the way, but while those are fun they're also work.  This trip we were moving the unit up to our training area so the concentration was on multiship operations.  They also involve work, but with the higher altitude there was the occasional moment to enjoy the view.  This was taken looking west in the Sedona area.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Longbow over Arizona

Apache Longbow near Picacho Peak
We had a busy weekend spent mostly in the Flagstaff area doing high altitude training.  There was a fair amount of weather (rain, hail and thunderstorms) that we dodged in the process.  It was a nice break from the usually nice but hot weather in the Phoenix area.  Sunday we flew some people down to Marana and had an AH-64D Apache Longbow join up with us.  Getting air to air shots is not something you get to do every day, so I grabbed my iPhone and got this one.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hidden in plain sight.

One of these things is not like the others...
This last drill we flew our new land component commander down to Marana where he spoke to our sister battalion, the 1-285th AHB, the local Apache command.  It was a good day for flying, and while ferrying general officers around is not the most exciting mission we do, it's not bad for a change.  Our couple hour stay was made even more pleasant by the fact that the first battalion Family Support Group was having a bake sale, so coffee and conversation was available while we waited.

First Battalion FRG bake sale