Photorecon Goes to Topgun!
On July 24th and 25th Photorecon was fortunate enough to have its first photocall at NAS Fallon. NAS Fallon is the home of the Navel Strike Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) and the Fighter Weapons School (Topgun). Photographers from Photorecon, Aviation Photographers of Southern California (APSOCAL), and Arizona Aviation Photographers (AzAP) made the trek to NAS Fallon, located approximately 60 miles east of Reno, Nevada.
On day 1 at 0830 we met the base PAO, Zip Upham, at the main gate. PAO Upham is a former Navy Lieutenant (intelligence officer) serving with one of the last A7 Corsair II squadrons in the fleet. So due to Zip’s background, he was a wealth of information. Also helping Zip with our escort was his aide, Doug Harvey. After completing the necessary paperwork allowing us to shoot pictures on base and a flight line safety brief, we were off. Our first stop was the Fighter Weapons School who were scheduled for a 0900 launch.
We were escorted straight out to the flightline where we were able to see the morning launch of F16s, F5s, and F18s (both legacy and Super Hornet models). Once the launch concluded, we then shot the remaining aircraft on the ramp. These aircraft included F16s, F18s, SH60s, F5s, and E2 Hawkeyes.
After shooting the static aircraft on the ramp, it was time to go shoot on the runways. We were positioned in between both runways and at the edge of the “hold short” position. For the next several hours, we were able to shoot departures and arrivals of NSWAC and Fighter Weapons School F16s, F18s, F5s, and an E2. Zip accompanied us to our runway shoot and was a great source of information regarding general base and squadron activities.
We ended our day at the NSAWC gift shop where each of spent far more money that we should have on stickers, hats, and t-shirts. If it had a “NSAWC” on it, odds are we bought it!
Day 2 started at 0830 at the main gates of NAS Fallon. PAO Upham was called away on business so his aide, Doug Harvey was our escort for the day. Doug did an incredible job getting us from one area to another. Day 2 itinerary was basically the opposite of day 1. Once the necessary security forms and safety briefs were completed, we went directly to the runways and the “hold short” area we were at on day 1. Over the next few hours, we shot NSAWC and Topgun aircraft, in addition to Carrier Air Wing 2 aircraft that we hadn’t seen fly on day 1. The “money shot” for the day was VFA 137 “Kestrels” CAG bird (F/A18E) in digital camouflage. The Camo CAG bird was followed up by a VAQ 135 EA6B Prowler from CAW 11/USS NIMITZ.
After shooting from the runway, we went back to the ramp and shot more static aircraft on the ramp and the recovery of the earlier departures. We then drove to the SAR hanger and shot the ramp of Fallon’s SAR SH60s. Day 2 ended with shooting the static displays at NAS Fallon’s air park.
NAS Fallon was an incredible photo shoot. Aggressor F16s, F18s, and F5s are always great to shoot. PAO Upham and Doug Harvey, were to say the least, awesome, very accommodating, and allowed us access to take some incredible pictures.