Ellington Field, Houston, Tx 12-16-2013 Photos and text by: Bill Havel
This past weekend a fellow friend and spotter advised me that there were 4 Harriers from VMFA-311 on the ramp and one broke down QF-4E from Holloman. He heard the Harriers were going to stay there all weekend and were to depart around 1500 hours on Monday. Normally, I would have made the trip on Sunday but was feeling quite under the weather…..felt like flu hit me, so I didn’t make the trip. Armed with this intel I made the trip over on Monday arriving around 1415 and wouldn’t you know it…..the Harriers were gone! I couldn’t believe my luck….AGAIN, lol! So, I decided to make the best of it by shooting the Phantom from a couple of different locations trying to get the best angle I could. After all, I went to see that, too. After that I sat in my car watching and listening to the scanner and heard the tower talking to a NASA T-38 pilot who was inbound for some touch-and-goes. About the second time around here came a Tulsa F-16C, block 42 just above and behind him. The T-38 turned right to land on 35L and the Viper did the same only to land on 4. Tulsa flies the alert missions here so I’m guessing he may be a replacement airframe. Of course he could have just been flying locals here as well……as they do that frequently. Once they touched down I watched them taxi in and then sat back in the car. No sooner than I did that I heard the tower say ” your clear for the overhead”. I look up and here comes a Hawkeye doing a beautiful carrier-break. Wow, what a gorgeous site. Bummer I couldn’t get the camera up and ready fast enough. But, I did manage to get a shot or two of him landing……even if it was a good distance away. Turned out it was a E-2D from VX-1 stationed at NAS Patuxant River, MD. One of the guys who works the ramp told me he was there to get fuel and would be heading out shortly. I thought to myself how awesome…I can get him leaving, too. Well, needles to say his departure did not disappoint. He was only a few feet off the ground when the gear when up. He held that altitude till he reached the end of the runway before he pulled the nose up to a high AOA, and made a hard left turn practically standing it on its left wing. What a killer departure and great way to end my spotting time.