Hungry for some more jet noise, and hearing that VMFA-122 Werewolves were in town for two days flying two sorties per day, I knew I had to go over to Ellington to catch some of the action. On my way over late Friday afternoon I received a text from a fellow spotter that they had just departed and were due back in about 45 minutes. Armed with this info I drove to just outside the north perimeter of the Field and parked on Genoa Red Bluff as RWY 17R was in use. After about five minutes here came 3 Hornets flying in a echelon formation right at me. I had no time to react (take pictures) as they came from behind a couple of tall trees. I jumped out of my car watching them fly downfield as each one peeled away from the formation to circle around to land. Thankfully that gave me plenty of time to set up and capture them on finals. As I was reviewing the pics I heard NASA radio chatter and saw one of their WB-57s out to the north. I watched as it approached the field for a flyover before swinging around to land. After it landed I headed over to the ramp areas on the base to see where the Hornets had parked. I worked my way up and down the flight line in and around a couple of FOBs trying to get the best angels possible for static shots which thankfully worked out pretty well. Further north on the line I spotted a KC-135 from Utah, so I made my way up there for shot of it. I then went back to where the Hornets were and noticed the pilots were back in the cockpit and engines were running. This had to be the second sortie…….. I quickly drove to the furthest point north that I could to catch them taxi by and shoot their take-offs. I’ve found this to be a good spot as the fast movers are wheels up about the time they reach that area. Once they departed I went back to where they were parked waiting on their return and capture them taxiing back in, which I did.
This turned out to be one of my favorite spotting experiences in quite some time. Not only was the weather favorable (was supposed to be cloudy with 40% chance of rain), but so were my opportunities. Not too often I get to see a unit land, shoot statics of them, shoot them taxi back out for another sortie, shoot departures and shoot as they taxi back in.
Pictures and Articles by Bill Havel
1) Werewolves VMFA-122 in actions
2) KC-135 and WB-57 from NASA