Tempiute Valley And The Red Flag That Never Was, October 2012
by Alan Gudaitis

Click to enlargeLast week and this week was supposed to be a Red Flag event, one of several throughout the year of which I can't wait to attend. As most of you know I love to take photos of our USAF in action (peacetime). Almost all my photos are posted for the public to see on a website called Webshots which is a free site for anyone to post photos. Within the area I am assigned I have posted several albums depicting the days of the Red Flag events which span several years. I think there are over 1200 + photos, and so far over 190,000 people have viewed some if not all the photos. If you should happen to visit Webshots, you can view my albums under the user name of "NEONSKYLV".

Well even though they canceled RF, I had already planned on going, so except for leaving a few days later I left for Tempiute Valley, next to Area 51, and camped at a DOT gravel pit, affectionately called by a dear friend, Alantown. I added Population one. This is my hangout for the next two weeks.

I left Wednesday and ran into two days of an intense storm of which those of you who live in Las Valley are well. The storm passed and the following weather up until today was just perfect. Daily temps were in the low 70s, with great sleeping weather. It is one of the best times to be out here, especially for Red Flag. That is why I was not too happy to see Red Flag canceled, but much to my surprise, Weapons School, the daily air combat exercises the Nellis AFB is recognized for was surprisingly very active. Almost every day I had up to6-8 low over flights, whereby the aircraft fly by you just a few hundred feet off the ground at over 4-500 MPH. If I am quick enough, and I'm in the right spot, with the right view I can photograph the jets as they fly by, and freeze their flight of motion. They are at times memorial shots, and the ones I seek out. To me it is my way of going fishing. I don't know if I will catch anything of the caliber I want, or photograph action that is just worthy of my trash bin, the latter usually being to operative situation. To say it is challenging is an understatement. So many times the perfect photo escaped me because I was either looking in the wrong direction or inside my RV. So on this visit is was a bust up until today.

Now I photograph anything that will fly, but mostly f-15s, 16s or some aircraft from foreign nations when they visit, but helicopters is a rarity. So you can image my thought as I was standing on a hill next to my RV when several miles away coming over the mountains I saw and object and I discerned some red and green lights. Only a few seconds went by when I discerned a helicopter, but not just any helicopter, and I soon realized it was coming right at me. I started taking photos at long range up until it went right over my head. It appeared he came right at me, dead center, but of course a safe distance above my head. I have attached several resized photos to give you and idea of what I saw.

A series of photos like this make all of my 10 days of mediocrity worthy while. I'll post the full series on Webshots soon.

I was told that you rarely see helicopters in and about this valley and Rachel, especially one so loaded with so much fire power.

It was a good trip after all. It doesn't take much to please me out here, at least just one good set of photos, frozen in time.

Alan

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