MCAS Yuma February 2014 Visit
In late February I traveled to El Centro California to shoot at and attend a photo call at NAF El Centro before making my way onto Nellis AFB in Las Vegas Nevada for Red Flag 14-2. On my way to El Centro I made a point of stoping in Yuma Arizona to shoot at MCAS Yuma for a day. MCAS Yuma was extremely busy with many movements through out the day. MCAS Yuma is currently the busiest air station in the Marine Corps offering excellent year-round flying conditions and thousands of acres of open terrain for air-to-ground weapons ranges and associated restricted airspace for military flight operations.
Along with F-5's from VMFT-401 "Snipers", Yuma is Harrier heaven, home of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron1 (MAWTS-1) and Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 (VMFT-401) That being said, along with many other units, East coast Harrier squadrons from MCAS Cherry Point frequently visit MCAS Yuma to make use of the 2.8 million acres of bombing and training ranges. The new kid on the block in Yuma is the F-35B Lightning II flying with VMFA-121 "Green Nights". The F-35B's of VMFA-121 are slated to eventually phase out the aging Harrier fleet which has now been extended to 2030 from the airframes originally intended retirement date of 2015.
While I was in Yuma I was fortunate to catch some movements from the visiting Belgium Air Component F-16AM's that where spending a few weeks at the base doing work ups in preparation for the upcoming Red Flag 14-2. Unfortunately though, I did not get a chance to see Yumas “lightnings”. I was there on a Monday and was told after the fact that they typically fly Tuesdays-Fridays. None the less, the day was jam packed with none stop movements from home based aircraft and even a few visitors that stopped by for an approach. With gorgeous year round weather combined with being a very photographer friendly base MCAS Yuma is a fantastic base to shoot at. If you're in the area or are even considering paying the base a visit I would highly recommend it -- you won't be disappointed.
Photos and text by Stuart Sanders
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