Red Flag 06-1, Nellis AFB and Rachel (February 13-14, 2006)
by Gregos

Part 1:

Click to enlargeI went up to Nellis AFB today for the recovery of Red Flag at 12:00pm. Aircraft were already landing on Runway 21R when we got there so we parked by the racetrack. For the first 45 minutes it was the usual stuff: F-15s, F-16s, A-10s, etc. We saw the Aggressor F-16s with the "Lizard camouflage" paint jobs and a few F-111s (haven't seen one of those in awhile). Around 1:30 or so, an AWACs came straight in followed by two KC-135 Tankers. I figured with the tankers down, that was about it. But I didn't want to leave without seeing F-22s or the B-2 Bomber!

A few minutes later, over the scanner (327.00) "somebody heavy" cleared to land... I didn't catch the call sign but "heavy" could be a bomber! As the aircraft made straight in I wasn't seeing a tail. As it got closer, still no tail, yes, the Crown Jewel! Two B-2 Spirits one after the other! We hung around for a few more minutes when we noticed a bunch of F-15s about to take off. We drove to the other side of the base to watch them depart.

Things seemed to calm down a bit and it was almost 2:00pm so we were about to go. Then the scanner went off again with a "somebody cleared for take off." I really have to start paying attention to the call signs! OK, time for one last picture. Right over our heads came (4) Thunderbirds in the diamond formation! We waited for the two solo aircraft to follow but they never did (at least while we were there), maybe they had the day off lol! Way cool day!!!

Part 2:

Click to enlargeI had such a good time I decided to go back for the evening launch. I got back to the racetrack at 5:00pm in case they were early as before with the landings. And I was hoping to see some F-22s sneak out early maybe... Shortly after getting there an AWACS started to taxi passed the B-2s to Runway 03. This time I heard "Disco zero one heavy, cleared for take off." I took a few shots of the AWACS in the setting sun. Then I noticed the B-2s were gone. A little while later, I heard "Anchor 25 heavy, cleared for take off." Two KC-135s took off and headed North.

Just as the sun dipped behind the hills, the two B-2s departed and I didn't hear a radio transmission at all for them. After that more fighters and it was starting to get really dark. The F-15s with full afterburner look really cool at night. Warm weather, full moon, what a gorgeous night to fly! I played around with "night shot" on the camcorder for awhile (kind of desert storm look lol) but it was time to go...

As I type this I can hear the recovery all the way in Henderson! Didn't expect that with a little antenna (ICOM IC-R5 Scanner).

Part 3:

Click to enlargeWe drove up to Rachel on Tuesday, and arrived at Coyote Summit around 10:00am. There was a Roland Radar site set up in the parking area with the dish spinning. Not sure if we were going to get "zapped" we hesitated for a bit. Then we noticed other people around the site and no flashing lights, so we figured we would be all right. Got a nice little work out climbing the hill and it was worth it. The view of the Tikaboo Valley is gorgeous!

I tuned the scanner to AWACS "Chalice" (308.60). Lots of cool call signs like: "Evil one one", "Arson" and "Nightmare." Soon after getting to the top (4) F-117 Nighthawks flew over in single file skimming the restricted airspace of Groom Lake (R-4808N). Most of the aircraft were high up but a few passed on the deck in the valley below - way cool! The first was a Tornado going East to West low in the Valley. Then a F-15 banked hard right in front of us giving a good shot of his belly. F-111s passed several times.

Click to enlargeOn one pass this guy rolled in right over the Roland Radar site actually below us on the hill. I'm glad that picture came out as it was worth the long drive right there!!! Does anyone know if that was possibly his "target?" He was definitely on the deck and flying nap of the Earth and didn't pop up to "drop a bomb." Then a little higher up, two F-15 were being "shot at" by someone and they popped a half dozen flares. It started to quite down around 12:00pm so we decided to start the climb down. When we reached the bottom of the hill the Roland was already gone.

We then decided to go to the Back Gate for a quick looksie. We passed another Roland about half way there on the Back Gate Road. Snapped a nice picture of the gate - no "cammo dudes" in sight! Then off for a short stop at the A'Le'Inn. When we pulled up there were (3) Roland Radar trucks in the parking lot (maybe having lunch)? It was a very cool trip.

Click to enlargeOn the way home I decided to stop by the airport to burn my last two pictures on the Janets. I got a shot from the top level of Long Term Parking. The first 15 minutes is free - LoL! My pictures do not do the trip justice. I used a 35mm Minolta with a 70-210mm lens. Looks like I need to save up for something more powerful! I have most of March off and I'm thinking of a climb up to Tikaboo Peak. I need to see the base with my own two eyes. I have a Meade ETX-90 Telescope, I just need to get the camera mount. I hope my post was helpful.

Part 4:

Click to enlargeSince it is the last day of Red Flag and I had no plans I decided to drive back up to Nellis AFB. I got there at 10:00am. Waiting for the light at Craig & Las Vegas Blvd, (4) Thunderbirds flew over the intersection. I parked just North of the racetrack so all aircraft would fly right over my head. I must of missed the AWACS and Tankers and B-2s, but (8) F-117s took off shortly after I parked. Then the usual aircraft: F-15s, F-16s, F-18s, Tornados, etc. Around 11:30am I saw an AWACS taxi for take off: "Sentry Three One Heavy."

Click to enlargeShortly after that I heard the scanner switch runway directions and then planes started inbound to land (taking off runways 03 and to land runways 21). Some of the first ones home were the F-117 Nighthawks. I heard "Pecos Four One" over the scanner in a female voice. They came in two at a time, took awhile for all to land. "Pecos" could have been an earlier call sign but the next was "Mole One" in an English accent. I don’t think I’m wrong about this one then. Anyone know if a Woman flies the "Woblin’ Goblin?" – My kind of girl!

Click to enlargeIn all the commotion a F-16 and F-15 Aggressor snuck in side by side. Next "Blade Two One" inbound also in an English Accent. After that I thought I spotted a Thunderbird call sign "Eight Mike X-ray." I snapped a photo and it looks like an old one –T-38 Talon in Thunderbird Paint? Later "Mig One" Called in 7 miles north of Apex. (5) F-16 Aggressors then flew on by. After that a bunch of KC-135 Tankers, and a few C-130s made in to land.

Around 1:30pm I heard "Congo Something Heavy" inbound to land. Two B-2 Spirits –Beautiful! And they should be at $2 Billion a pop!!! I hung around for a few minutes more and then beat feet. Got a little sun burned but can’t wait until August! See you next time!

PS: There were many flights in between those listed above. These were some of the highlights of the day. From 10:00am until 1:30pm the sky was almost non-stop action! God Bless those who serve!

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