Naval Air Facility El Centro Photocall – Fall 2014

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On November 20, approximately 100 photographers arrived outside the main gates of Naval Air Facility El Centro (NAFEC). They were there for one of two annual photocalls held at one of the most active airfield in the country.Naval Air Facility El Centro was first commissioned on May 1, 1946.  located in the heart of Southern California’s Imperial Valley. It is a two hour drive from San Diego and Palm Springs, one hour from Yuma, AZ, and fifteen minutes from the Mexican border. Over the years the base has had a wide variety of assignments, from a parachute experimental division, an aeronautical escape system testing, evaluation, and design, to the filming of some scenes from the movie “Topgun.” El Centro is a Naval Air Facility, not an Air Station.  The difference between the two is that an Air Station has assigned squadrons.  An Air Facility, like El Centro, has no permanently assigned squadrons.  Despite having no permanently assigned squadrons, NAFEC is still one of the busiest airfields around! For the training of aircrews, NAFEC is an ideal air facility because of its remoteness; it has its own gunnery and bombing ranges, and has year round flyable weather.  Because of its great flyable weather, especially in the winter months, NAFEC is the winter home of the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Team the Blue Angels.  For several months in the winter, the Blues Angels will practice and refine their flight routine before their first show of the year. NAFEC is used by USNavy and /US Marine Corps aircrews, as well as foreign aircrews, such as the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, and Canadian Air Force. During our 4 hour + photocall, the following aircraft were at the facility:

  • F/A-18s Hornets (both legacy and supers) from VFA-106 “Gladiators” NAS Oceana, Virginia
  • T-45Cs Goshawks from VT-9 “Tigers” NAS Meridan, Mississippi
  • C-2 Greyhound from VCR-30 “Providers” NAS North Island, San Diego, California

Naval Air Facility El Centro is, and has been, an incredible facility to photograph military aircraft. One of the key components to these photocalls is Public Affairs Officer Kris Haugh.  Haugh took the PAO reins from Michelle Dee in the summer of 2014.  Kris and his staff did an incredible job managing the 100 photographers on the runways and made sure everyone received the “red carpet” treatment. Kris and his staff were nothing short of phenomenal. We would like to give a special thanks  to  Captain William Doster , Commanding Officer Naval Air Facility El Centro  and  Adam Schlismann Executive Officer Naval Air Facility El Centro for taking the time out of their day to meet and greet all the photographers, answer questions and give us a warm welcome to this outstanding facility.

Phil Myers

Phil Myers, a military aviation photojournalist with a passion for telling stories and documenting the history of military aviation. In addition to his website publications, Phil’s articles and photographs have been published in several magazines. Phil resides in Southern California.

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