Since it was a holiday weekend, I figured I could get a picture of all the JANETs on the ground. So I went to the airport to get a shot. There is some new construction right next to the terminal. However, there isn't a NO TRESSPASSING sign until you hit the airport fence, so I went on the construction zone road. I parked right up against the airport fence. I grabbed the camera and cut thru the new construction right up to the JANET terminal fence (I was probably trespassing now)! Nobody came after me so I quickly left. As I went by the terminal, I noticed there were a lot of cars in the parking lot for a holiday. Now I got a dilemma, a holiday weekend with almost no moon and lots of workers but no Janet flight since Thursday? Hmm, right up to Area 51 we go!!!
We got up there at 9:30pm for a night of car camping just after you pass Groom Lake Rd. No one was there but someone did leave wood and a few cow pies in the fire pit. We bought some wood too. It is blacker than black out there. The stars are amazing. It's hard to make out constellations because of all the background stars. I Wish I had bought my star chart. We saw 2 satellites pass over just after 10pm. We saw countless shooting stars, then around 11pm some aircraft to the North. The NOTAM from before said ongoing night vision training in Desert MOA. I did hear about 6 dull thud sounds coming from the base direction around the same time. Here we go -hopefully...
Sadly, nothing -no nothing! Not even anything over the scanner. At 2am, we did see a strange light coming from the base direction which did some strange things. After watching for about 5 to 10 minutes we decided it was some campers on Groom Lake Road throwing some campfire logs up in the air. I assume they made the thuds earlier as well. Oh, well. After that it was quiet...
I still had half a roll of film so I planed to burn it on the JANETs in air. From Google I scouted some parking structures that would yield some good shots. I think I was right:
The Hard Rock's got a wonderful view. I got there at 12:00pm and parked facing Paradise Rd on level 7 (the last covered level to keep out of the sun). When you hear the Janet call the tower, you see Sunrise Mountain at about 11 o'clock with the Janet over it. You have time if you (quickly) drive up to the top level 8 for a wonderful photo! They are less than 100 feet above and 200 feet away tops! With a good lens you could probably see the co-pilot's smiling face! Also it you walk to face the airport you can see them take off at a distance. They have security that patrols the garage, but they never did kick me out.
WWW267 (N5294E) on final at 12:43pm
(from Hard Rock Casino parking garage)
WWW288 on final
I then went over to MGM's garage, which is right next to the end of the runway. You can get a great shot of them touching down. Once again, they have security patrols and cameras everywhere. I took several shots of WWW278 touching down then stayed about 5 more minutes and tuned to 118.70 to see if I could hear the Janet Terminal (never did). After 10 minutes up top and out of film, I got in my truck. Just then a bike patrol came riding by. He saw the camera and scanner in my hand and I left the door open to see if he would come over. He never did.
WWW278 (N4529W) on final at 2:33pm
(from MGM parking garage)
WWW278 (N4529W) landing on Runway 19R
I just wished I had a cellular card for my laptop. I was calling my wife at work to check flightaware because of no Internet. Hope I didn't get you fired Honey!