400 miles from Los Angeles to Sunnyvale. Nothing but cows, trucks, and fields. Well, that and the US Navy’s newest and largest master jet base. Home to 21 squadrons, flying the F/A-18A/B/C/D Hornet and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, NAS Lemoore is the largest concentration of Hornets and Rhinos anywhere; and a perfect stop on a long drive.
So with the help of one of the coolest PAO’s in the Navy, Mr. Dennis McGrath, I was able to spend August 13 hanging out with some of the Navy’s finest people. I also took this opportunity to meet with the XO of VFA-122 “Flying Eagles,” Cmdr. Art “Kato” delaCruz, and present him and the squadron a pair of framed VFA-122 images. Years ago, the Flying Eagles gave me a rare opportunity to capture images of a brand new tactical demonstration team; the F/A-18 Super Hornet Demonstration Team. Spanky and The Dude launched that bird into the sky and never looked back. Dozens of demos later, I still look at the Rhino and awe at what this magnificent plane can do. The Flying Eagles still use my images on their website, and I proudly thank them for the chance that they offered me.
VFA-122 Super Hornet Demo Team at Salinas, CA.
After accepting Kato’s thanks, Dennis and I wandered down to the various flight ready rooms and visited the geedunk lockers to satisfy my craving for squadron patches and coins. Oh, yeah, and I took a few pictures along the way too! It didn’t help that 2/3’s of the squadrons were deployed, but still, it was sweet.
A pair of VFA-211 Fighting Checkmates heading out to play at the ranges.
VFA-125 Rough Raiders bird taking off on a military exercise.
VFA-25 Fist of the Fleet tails lined up.
VFA-94 Mighty Shrikes CAG bird waiting to launch.
XO’s bird from VFA-125 Rough Raiders sits in the hot Lemoore sun.
VFA-125 Rough Raiders blue camo bird torn down for a major inspection.
VFA-113 Stingers heading back to his ramp.
NAS Lemoore Tower keeping a vigilant eye on the air field.
A special thanks to the kind folks at NLC Tower, VFA-22, VFA-25, VFA-94, VFA-97, VFA-113, and VFA-125. And an extra special thanks to Kato from VFA-122 and Dennis McGrath for taking the time out of their busy schedules to meet with me and to show me around.