I would like to welcome our new assistant Editor Steven Valinski from AZ. He will be covering our AZ spotting . This is his 1st article on the action Arizona Style.
Chief Editor Dave Chng
Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course
Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course, commonly known as WTI, is a twice-annual USMC training program conducted at MCAS Yuma. Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS–1) conducts this training to provide realistic combat experiences for USMC aviators and their support groups. This training is a combination of classroom and field training aimed at providing the closest experience to real combat strategy, tactics, and execution. Simply put, after putting in some classroom time and planning strategies, USMC aviators, and their support teams, get to “blow stuff up”.
WTI 1-14, was the first WTI exercise of the new fiscal year. I had an opportunity to spend some time outside MCAS in in an attempt to photograph aircraft as they departed and arrived at MCAS Yuma. This season’s WTI had a lot of rotary aircraft participating. AH-1’s, UH-1’s, CH-53’s, and MV-22’s were commonplace. Fixed-wing aircraft included: F/A-18’s, EA-6’s, AV-8’s, F-5’s and C-130’s. Some private contractors were hired to provide support and adversary aircraft. These aircraft included: a pair of Alpha Jets, a pair of Hawker Hunters, an L-39, and a Mi-24 Hind. Local non-WTI traffic includes F-35B’s. Other traffic included CH-46’s.
MCAS Yuma is a fairly photographer-friendly place provided photographers are respectful and do not aim their lens towards the base. The quality of the photography taken at MCAS, like many bases, is very sensitive to the position of the sun. Midday shooting can be challenging with the harsh desert sun. The best time to shoot is after 3pm, and, fortunately, during WTI, there is a lot of activity in the late afternoon.
The next WTI will, most likely, be sometime in April 2014. I encourage all aviation photographers to take advantage of the opportunity to see a substantial volume of military aircraft flying. I was disappointed at the low number of American aviation photographers present during WTI. There were many foreign photographers there that make it a point to come out during WTI to catch the action regularly. Globally, these are tough times for military aviation photographers. Budgets, or a lack thereof, have reduced the number of hours being flown substantially in many countries. WTI provides an opportunity for aviation photographers to see a decent variety of aircraft, flying at a steady volume. For me, it was a great experience.