Tucson Air National Guard Base
On February 20th, 2019 while on a layover in Phoenix I decided to spend the day in Tucson starting with the Air National Guard Base. The flying started early that day and I was pleasantly surprised to see F-15s and not the local F-16s as the first aircraft to depart. Morning winter light at the base is not ideal for photography, as the sun spends very little time on the east side of Runway 11L but I was very happy with the combination of Klamath Falls Eagles, afterburners and the Tucson Mountains in the background.
The US Air Force operates an international F-16 schoolhouse in Tucson, training aspiring pilots from the United States, Singapore, Poland, Denmark, Japan and the Netherlands. In September 2012 Iraq was added to the list and I was really hoping to see some of the small contingent of Iraqi Air Force jets during my visit. I was very fortunate as after waves of F-16s from the 162nd Wing departed, two jets sporting slightly different shades of grey camouflage and the Iraqi flag on their tail, one single-seat and one two-seat version, took off in terrific conditions while carrying an AGM-65 Maverick missile under their left wing. They were shortly followed by some older A model aircraft flying the Dutch flag on their tail to add to the international flavour.
My short trip to Tucson was very rewarding. My spotting location was terrific and the traffic pattern was very busy. I am very eager to return and explore more of the vantage points available, especially for landing aircraft turning base-to-final.