Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport – Week of: 12/2/2013 – 12/8/2013
Article and Photos by Steven Valinski
This week I did not spend much time at Willie, but, during the time that I was there, I was fortunate to catch some interesting aircraft. With aviation photography, information can be a valuable asset that helps you be in the right place at the right time. This week, information helped me minimize the amount of time I spent waiting around the airport for activity. Earlier in the week I was told that the Blue Angel’s “Fat Albert” was in town. For those of you that do not know, “Fat Albert” is a U.S. Navy C-130T that is used as a support aircraft for the U.S. Navy demonstration team, the Blue Angles.
Upon arriving at the airport, I noticed “Fat Albert” parked to the south of the main ramp. To my surprise, there were a few additional aircraft of interest. First, AirUSA had one of their Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets and an Aero L-39 Albatros parked on the ramp. These guys were staging some tactical operations out of Phoenix-Mesa Gate Airport and would be flying in and out over the following few days. In addition, a U.S. Army Special Ops Sikorsky UH-60L Black Hawk was parked on the ramp. This helicopter had a unique paint scheme and the battalion company name of “Voodoo” painted on it.
Later in the week, it was pure luck that helped me capture a few additional aircraft. I was at Willie for twenty minutes waiting for a friend to arrive so we could travel to Luke AFB for some aircraft observation. While I was waiting, a Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian departed. This was a Boeing test helicopter and the latest Apache model. Along with the helicopter, a U.S. Air Force Northrop T-38 Talon and a U.S. Navy/Marines McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk departed shortly thereafter.
Even though I did not spend much time at Willie this week, the yield was nothing to complain about. If only aviation photography was always this efficient and productive…