Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport 11-24-2013
Article and Photos by Steven Valinski
After a long weekend of much-needed rain in the Valley of the Sun, the skies cleared up a little today. This prompted me to grab my equipment bag and head to the airport. Typically this time of year there is some military activity at “Willie” so there was a decent chance of something military there.
When I arrived at the airport there was an F/A-18D Hornet from VMFAT-101 “Sharpshooters” out of MCAS Miramar in San Diego, CA preparing for departure. There was also a few Harriers (from VMA-211 “Wake Island Avengers” out of MCAS Yuma) parked on the ramp. I was told another F/A-18 and a C-130 departed in the previous hour. Due to the winds runway 12 was in use so any departure shots were not going to be too dramatic.
I was able to get a few decent shots of the Hornet. After the Hornet left the Harriers prepared for departure. I decided not to photograph the Harriers from “The Hill”. The Harriers always take off on the easternmost runway, so, from “The Hill”, I would only get shots of the Harriers taxiing. I decided to move to a location off of Ellsworth Road and Pecos often referred to as “The Well” [GPS 33.292030, -111.634637] (I’m not sure why it is referred to as “The Well”. It does not look like what you would expect a well to look like).
The surprise of the day was a AH-1W SuperCobra from HMLA-773a based out of NAS Belle Chasse in Louisiana. It was parked and did not depart, but I was able to photograph it from the ramp. I also made my way down to ATSI, Inc. and took a few photos of their McDonnell Douglas A-4N Skyhawks. These are former Israeli aircraft that were purchased by ATSI for tactical aviation training.
It was a brief day of shooting, but there were a good amount of subjects in a short period of time.