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.
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.