Alantown and Red Flag, March 2014
by Alan Gudaitis

Click to enlargeThis had to be for me, one of the best Red Flags I have been too. Not because of any amazing amount of Air activity, but more of a personal nature.

First of all was this amazing sign put up by two friends that just blew me away, put a smile on my face and a tear in my eye. It is now safely with me and will be remounted and planted again where I first found it on every trip I take to Alantown again.

The second will take just a bit of explaining.

I think we all know that the guys and gals who fly these huge fiery beasts do so with a certain amount of pride and patriotism. I have noticed over the years that there are some pilots who seem to go out of their way to show some sort of appreciation to we who are earth bound and can only observe and admire the duty, dedication, and skill those pilots possess as they roar overhead flying by. I often wonder what they think of us? Are we just part of the landscape as they fly by? Are we just vicarious thrill seekers? I wonder if they know how much we admire them, appreciate what they do, and in our own way, the only way we can, show our appreciation to them through observation and photography.

It is there in a small patch of the desert where a few of us migrate several times a year. In my opinion we are a very small group of elite people from diverse parts of the country and the world who dedicate time and expense, and at times endure a very harsh environment to let Red Flag pilots know that someone else cares about them. In my case it is my personal credo. It is the only way I can show my appreciation.

Soon I will once again post my many RF photos on the internet where close to a quarter of a million people over several years, took the time to look at them.

So what was so exciting for me? The last three photos below show a sequence of a F-15 flying low past our RV's. This jet had flown by before, and deliberately flew by again with its wings almost vertical and as it leveled off it shot out two anti-missile avoidance flares. There is no doubt that this was intentional. I have constantly seen flares being deployed, but always at several thousand feet altitude, never when just a few hundred feet off the ground. For me it was the ultimate form of recognition a pilot could show without landing and shaking my hands. In all my years observing I have never seen or heard of anything like this.

My only criticism of the photo is that I wish the F-15 was more in focus, but it happened so quickly I literally shot from the hip, not having time to focus as another jet was coming by and I didn't know what was going to happen. These opportunities happen in a matter of seconds. I wasn't sure I got the photo until I later examined the images.

I couldn't ask for anything more out of my trips to Red Flag at Alantown, in the Tikaboo Valley, next to Area 51.

Alan

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