On the Road – USA 2020 – The Bases

So as mentioned in my post about The Boneyard, only an idiot travels at the start of a global pandemic. I found myself in Arizona in March with plans to attend the Yuma and El Centro airshows (The draw of the Blue Angels was too great). Instead I attended neither as both ended up being cancelled due to Covid-19. On the Wednesday I stayed en-route , so took the opportunity to visit the F-101’s sat at Gila Bend field.

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Arriving in So Cal on the Thursday afternoon, I was greeted by the mother of all storms, the roads were flooded and there was no way I was getting anywhere near the fence at El Centro. Arriving at the hotel I discovered the show had been cancelled and my plans went into a tailspin, sort of.

What could I do? I could chance my arm and stay at El Centro in the hope of a Blues practice or take the alternative plan of heading to Yuma and see if there was any action there.

The Yuma show had been cancelled at the same time, so my plans were well and truly scuppered. Off to Yuma I went (and yes the Blues did practice on the Friday of course).

There I met Matt Mansell and his mates, over for some shows and some action in the Sunshine – won’t mention what they got up to in the evenings. We were treated to two F-35 displays, the Marines F-35B and the Air Force F-35A. Also (we didnt know this at the time) the base was retiring its veteran SAR squadron. So we captured the last flights made from the base and a special ceremony, that was later covered in the July edition of Combat Aircraft magazine.

As usual we were treated to Harriers, god I miss them here, F-5’s of VMFT-401, a rare Do-328 of the Sierra Neva Corp and all the other usual suspects you find at the base.

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Plans had been made to stay in El Centro for three nights so these were hastily rearranged and I found myself back in Gila Bend, where I stayed on the first night at the Palms Hotel – A hotel I can thoroughly recommend, lovely people!

I’ll cover the two days spent during the weekend in in a seperate post. On to Monday then and having spent the early part of the morning at the Boneyard I was then guided, by Ramon, to an excellent location near Davis Monthan to capture landing Hawgs. Boy, did we get the Hawgs! It was like being back in East Anglia, though a lot warmer and a lot sunnier.

Apart from the A-10’s, there was a B-300 belonging to the Dept. of Homeland Security doing the rounds and a C-130 take off captured from the wing of the Orion in the Boneyard. My time was cut very short, I was due to fly back on the Tursday but thanks to restrictions the last BA flight from Phoenix was that very night.

So a brief, slightly disappointing but brilliant trip to the States ended. When I’ll get back again I don’t know. But, it really is the best place to see Military Aircraft in action. And the beer isnt bad these days as well!

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