So far, 2015 has been off to a great start aircraft spotting wise. And this past Friday, Feb 27th was no exception. I met up with a couple other spotters after work at the FedEx warehouse located at the south end of the airfield off HWY 3 (Old Galveston Road) as we heard 4, F-15s were coming in from the 159FW out of New Orleans. Just the idea of them coming was pretty exciting. As most of us know the F-15C/D Eagle numbers are dwindling as I write this, so I want to take every available opportunity I have to photograph them before they disappear for good. Granted, that may be awhile (late 2020s?), but there are only a small handful of units left in the US and rarely do they pass through Houston, if at all. As I waited for the Eagles a Coast Guard HC-144A Ocean Sentry performed a couple of touch and goes. I’ve never seen one of these airframes and unfamiliar with it I researched and found out it performs search and rescue missions as well as maritime patrol. So that was a good catch. A short time later Justin (one of the other spotters) who was listening to the scanner said the Eagles were a few minutes out and it sounded as though they were going to make a straight-in approach. Bummer! As the first one approached, he had his gear down and just before touching down he increased the power and tucked the gear up for a go-around. The other three did the same. I believe each one went around three times before landing. They gave us a nice little show for sure. And to add the icing to the cake, they brought the Wing King jet, tail number 85-102; the triple MiG killer from the ’91 Gulf War. In 1991 it was assigned to the 58TFS / 33TFW, Eglin AFB. Its kills are a MiG-23 and 2 each Su-22s.
After they landed I drove on the base to see if I could get some static shots. Just down the ramp from them were a few T-6A Texan IIs from NAS Pensacola, a T-45C from NAS Kingsville and a very well weathered AH-64D. As for the Apache, I had no idea where it was from. I’m not well versed on their unit markings. He took on some fuel and left shortly thereafter.
When the Eagles arrived the weather was rather gloomy. Skies were very gray with a 2000 (maybe plus?) foot ceiling. As time went by some of the clouds in the west broke open just enough for a little sunlight to peer through exposing for just a few minutes a little of the “golden hour”. You can see a little of that on the pics of the T-45C, the Apache and a static shot or two of the 159FW F-15C boss bird. Thankfully that happened shortly before the sun dipped below the horizon.
By Bill Havel
JZ F-15C , T6 from NAS Pensacola, T45C from NAS Kingsville, Coast Guard HC-144A and a really weathered AH-64D
JZ F-15C/D from 159th FW air actions