Photos and text by Bill Havel:
After going over to Ellington two previous times and striking out I was beginning to think, just like in baseball, my third time I might go down swinging as well. Thankfully I did just the opposite and hit something of a home-run. This time the ramp had a nice variety of aircraft. There were 5, F-16C block 42 Vipers from the 138 FW based out of Tulsa, OK, three T-38Cs from the 87 FTS (Red Bulls), 47 FTW, Laughlin AFB, Del Rio, TX, one F/A-18A+ from VMFA-112 Cowboys, NAS JRB Ft Worth, TX (Dave Chng & Bryan Stevens home turf), one F/A-18A+ from VFA-204 River Rattlers from NAS New Orleans, LA and two privately owned P-51Ds both of which were gorgeous. I would have been thrilled just to shoot these jets sitting static but I was extremely fortunate in having the opportunity to catch all five Vipers launch, all three Talons and the River Rattler Hornet. It turned out the Vipers were flying out over the Gulf to mix it up with each other to hone their dog-fighting skills. Periodically, they come to Ellington to do that and sometimes they “fight” with the F-15Cs from the 159 FW based out of JRB New Orleans. As for the others, they departed to their next stop, wherever that might be.
Of particular note is the scoreboard markings on the port side, just below the forward canopy section on F-16C 89-0539. It has 3 bomb drops with the inscription of OEF 13 in each. Pretty cool to know this aircraft laid down some firepower in Afghanistan.
After a relatively long dry spell this visit did my soul some good. I hope this is a prelude of things to come for 2014.