NAF El Centro Photocall- October 2013
What is a Photocall? A Photocall is generally when a location such as a military base or an airport, which is normally closed to the public is opened for a day for photographers to come and visit the location and photograph the aircraft from the runway and the ramp area.
Naval Air Field El Centro, located in the Imperial Valley of southern California has for several years, held a bi-annual Photocall for several groups of aviation photographers, such as the Arizona Aviation Photographers, the Aviation Photographers of Southern California, and an internet group called Fence Check. This event is organized by the Public Affairs Officer, which is currently held by Michelle Dee.
This year’s second event happen on October 24th. The photographers gathered early in the morning outside of the Naval base at the west end, where they can photograph any planes taking off, before the day’s scheduled event. Then at approximately 12 noon, they are escorted on to the base, and led to the runways, where they get to spend close to 5 hours where there shouldl be a lot of plane and helicopter activity taking off and landing.
If you were there early in the morning, you were able to see a British Army CH-47 Chinook and several US Marines CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters taking off. At 9:00 a.m., 2 US Air Force KC-10’s and several US Marine F/A-18 Hornets from VMFAT (AW) 223 the Bengals, and VMFAT (AW) 533 – the Hawks, also departed from NAF El Centro.
Two camouflaged F-5’s Tiger II’s made a quick “Touch and Go” landing, and continued on their way. These F-5’s are members of VMFT-401 the Snipers. This unit acts as an aggressor unit flying against other fighter squadrons for training purposes. The last jets to come in were 2 more US Marine F/A-18’s from VMFAT-101, the Sharpshooters. Two Danish Air Force Merlin helicopters also took off before the photographers were to gather on the runway.
Once on the runway, the air traffic was slow in coming and going, the Control tower did a wonderful job in attempting to route planes and helicopters past the photographers, as a US Navy C-2 Greyhound did several passes and landings. 2 Navy SH-60’s and Marine CH-53 Sea Stallion also made a pass.
Thanks goes out to the US Navy, the civilian staff, and military personnel of NAF El Centro for hosting this event each time.