Socal Spotters were delighted and honoured to be invited to attend a photocall at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro. NAF El Centro is used as a training ground and is situated in a basin below sea level close to the Mexican Boarder and the town of Imperial.

The photocall was held on the 16th February and the day before we were all worried that the event may be cancelled as there was snow and high winds. Even two hours before our arrival the event was still in jeopardy but luckily as we got close to the base we were informed that we would be OK although many of the scheduled squadrons had cancelled leaving a limited amount of participants.

After meeting the other invited guests at the main gate we were given a security briefing and boarded the buses for our escort on to the main base where we were greeted with our first sight of an aircraft in the way of US Navy C-40A 166695.

The buses took us to an area by the cross runway and we were treated to a full one hours display by the Blue Angels.

The Blue Angels use El Centro as a training base for their upcoming 2012 Air Show engagements which kicks off at the El Centro Air Show on the 10th March.

The Blue Angels started the engines of their F-18 Hornet’s very promptly at 13:00 hours and were led out by Capt Greg McWherter in No 1 (163451) and Maj Brent Stevens in No 4 (163435), They were shortly followed by Capt Brandon Cordill in No 3 (163765) and Lt John Hiltz in No 2 (163498). The last pair to take to the skies were Lt C.J Simonsen in No 5 (162437) and Lt Dave Tickle in No 6 (163093).

After the excellent display by the Blue Angels it was back on the buses and we were escorted to an area at the far side of the airfield adjacent to the Runway 26 which was being used.

For a full list of the Blue Angels upcoming 2012 schedule please visit www.blueangels.navy.mil/show

We spent a great four hours at this location and even though we missed out on many aircraft due to the weather we did not let the dampness,high winds,dark clouds and low temperatures dampen our spirits and enjoyed the F-18’s from Lemoore and Miramar along with some CH-53’s from Miramar and even a couple of Beech T-34 Mentors.

Just as our day was coming to an end and we were ready to get back on the bus and leave we were rewarded with the arrival of two AV-8 Harriers.

The day finished with a visit to the Blue Angels and El Centro shops where t-shirts and other merchandise could be purchased.