In March 2000 me and my father went to the USA for a couple of days to stay at some Kronemeyer's who are living in Mesa (Phoenix-area). Our main objective was to see some of Arizona and to photograph some planes. We flew by Continental DC-10 to Newark and then by Boeing 757 from Southwest Airlines to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. We arrived in the evening (Thursday) and got picked up by Dale Kronemeyer (Yes, he is related but quite some generations ago). Dale visited Holland two times before and for my father it wasn't the first time at Dale's and Maureen's. Their hospitality was beyond limits and we even could borrow their Saturn for our spottingtrips ! They live in a very nice neighbourhood in Mesa.

On Fridaymorning we drove to Luke A.F.B. Stationed at Luke is the 56th Fighter Wing flying a total of 200 (!!) F16's. These are divided amongst 9 squadrons. Luke is situated about 20 miles northwest of Phoenix and is part of the City of Glendale and the world's only F16 training base. Upon arrival we situated ourselves alongside the runway 21R/3L. Obviously Luke has 2 runways which are parallel alongside eachother. The other being off course 21L/3R. The first aircraft we saw where 3 German F-4F's from the 20th FS 'Silver Lobos' stationed at Holloman A.F.B. in New Mexico getting ready for take off. Because this spot was not that great for photographing we quickly moved on to the landing on the southwest side (Runway 3L/3R). During the day 58 Falcons flew and two more visitors where noted. These being a KC-10A and a KC-135E. At about 14.00 hrs. we called it a day and went back for Mesa.

We drove straight through Phoenix again which was great with it's 6 lanes highways. I suggested that we could take a look at former Williams A.F.B. which is called Williams Gateway these days. Dale who was the whole day with us said that there was nothing going on at Williams anymore. But after entering the parkinglot at Williams two Harriers taxied in right in front of us ! Fantastic. They parked their jets on the ramp where more military aircraft where parked. A T-37B belonging to the 85th FTS which is stationed at Laughlin A.F.B./Texas, a T-1A from the 86th FTS also stationed at Laughlin, a T-34C belonging to TAW-4 stationed at Corpus Christi N.A.S/Texas and a T-45A Goshawk (my first !) from Kingsville N.A.S./Texas (Training Wing Two). I asked the two Harrierpilots if it was possible to enter the ramp. They said that I should asked the civilian Aircraft Handlers. They had also no objections. So I was one happy camper ! After taking pics of the aircraft on the ramp one of the Harrierpilots asked me if I wanted to have a look inside his Harrier. Off course man. It turned out that they where on a navigationmission and came from Miramar M.C.A.S./California. After Williams they where planning to go back to their homebase Yuma M.C.A.S. At about 17.00 hrs. we left Williams again for our temporarily hometown Mesa. A great first day.

The next day being a saturday brought us to Phoenix Mesa Falcon Field. Situated just around the corner Falcon Field is home to the Confederate Air Force and the Boeing productionline of the AH-64 Apache. After paying a few bucks entrancefee we entered the platform and the big hangar of the Confederate Air Force. They have a nice collection with the most interesting one being former U.S.A.F. C-118A Liftmaster 53-3262 now looking like a Mexican one (XA-TDR). I also noted two Canberra TT18's on the Boeing side of the base.

After that we drove downtown to Papago A.A.F. which is home to the Arizona Army National Guard's 385th Attack Regiment flying with UH-60 Blackhawks and OH-58 Kiowa's. Three Blackhawks and three Kiowa's where noted on the ramp but no flying activities what so ever. I photographed the A-7D and the AH-1S which are on display and went back to Mesa. The next day being a sunday we used as a R and R day and prepare ourselves for our trip to the boneyard (officially known as AMARC) at Davis Monthan.

The next morning we stood up early and headed to Davis. Not only the AMARC was our main objective but also the Pima Air & Space Museum which is in my opinion the greatest museum on earth. What a collection. The morning was used to photograph the planes which are waiting for the big melting pots at the local scrapyards like Bob's Air Park which are bordering the perimeter of AMARC. A bunch of S-2 Trackers where noted as well as C-118's, C-130's, HU-16's, Crusaders and Skyhawks, S-1's and E-2's and all sorts of helo's. I also tried to take a look at Davis Monthan A.F.B. but only spotted two EC-130H's which where flying their circuits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the scrapyards we went to the Pima Air & Space Museum which is just opposite the road of AMARC. Guarding the gate was A-4C N401FS ex-Flight Systems. Actually a sistership of the ones still flying at Wittmund (see 'At the Fence/Fightertown Wittmund'). Highlights are too many to mention. Just check out some of the photo's below and you know what I mean ! At Pima you can buy a ticket for a bustour at AMARC. So we bought two tickets and went on the bus that took as to AMARC. We stopped at the platforms where F-4's where made ready for their move to Mojave to be converted to QF-4 drones by BAE Systems. Completed aircraft are flown to Tyndall A.F.B. where they will serve at the 82nd ATRS. Also some F16's where noted which where new arrivals. Most of them ADF-variants. The new arrivals go directly to the 'Preservation Farm' where mechanics drain the engines and the fuel and oil. After the aircraft is handeled they will put protection on it in the form of a white spraylet which protects vital parts against the baking heat. A few A-10's where made flyable again to be put back on operational strength. The bus went on and we passed 'Celebrity Row'. On Celebrity Row one of each type of aircraft which are at the AMARC are put on display. Pretty awesome ! After that we drove to the real storage centre with rows and rows of all kinds of aircraft. Phantoms by the hundreds, B-52's by the dozens, F-16's and F/A-18's, many C-141's, a lot off Corsairs etc etc. Just too many to mention. Actually by the time we visited the AMARC there where over 4,000 aircraft present !!

The next day we went to Luke for the second time this trip. The weather was better than the day before and we counted 87 (that is eighty-seven !!) Falcons flying !! Also four 'HI' F16's payed a visit. Other visitors included 2 AV-8B's, an E-8 and a Arizona ArNG Blackhawk. In all we had a great day. The missions where flown from runways 21L and 21R. We had placed ourselves between the two runways. For 21L we stood well but for 21R we had some backlight. Fortunately most aircraft tend to use 21L. The local sherrif and base security didn't pay any attention to us while photographing.

As a grand finale of our trip we had chosen Yuma M.C.A.S. where a big Marines exercise was held. On wednesdaymorning we had to drive 300 kilometres to get there. After a nice meal in Casa Grande we drove on the Interstate 8 to get to the promised land. Upon arrival two F16's where allready in the process of landing. Two Luke ones we also saw the day before. But after that we where surprised by the great amount of F-5E/F's that where coming back from their mission. Eight Tigers out of a total of 12 that where operational during that time with VMFT-401 is a pretty good score. The 'Snipers' are the Marines Corps' only adversary squadron. Their mission is to improve the Marine Corps' air-to-air combat readiness by employing current threat tactics against Marine pilots. The Tigers are piloted by fighter pilots with over 2,500 flying hours on tactical fighter aircraft. Also twelve AV-8B Harriers where coming back from their missions (probably mostly above the Yuma proving grounds). Stationed at Yuma where/are 6 squadrons flying the AV-8B Harrier. under the cognizance of Marine Aircraft Group 13. Marine Aviation weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 or MAWTS-1 is the major aviation command at Yuma conducting training for all Marine Corps tactical aviation units. The Snipers report directly to them. Furthermore three KC-130F Hercules showed up. Unfortunately almost all partipants of the exercise wheren't flying. I noted four more KC-130T's, a bunch of choppers (CH-46E's, CH53E's and AH1W's). Some of them actually flew. Two Prowlers belonging to VMAQ-4 and two E-3C's from the 965th ACS where also on deck. Around the corner where eight Hornets and two Tomcats but besides one Hornet immposible to read. Highlights where unmistakenly four Ospreys. I think maybe seven or eight where operational during that time so that was a high score. One of them (BuNo 165436) crashed only a few days later at Marana killing all 19 Marines on board.

After a good days work we drove to downtown Yuma to look for a Motel. There are plenty around so we picked one and installed ourselves in one of the rooms. We took a shower and watched some T.V. and grabbed a great meal in a dinner just across the street. The next day was our last full day in the States and positioned ourselves on exactly the same spot as the day before. The flying was in one word: bad. We only had two Hornets belonging to VMFA-323 which landed and a few local Harriers and Tigers. We stayed till the afternoon and decided to drive back to Mesa. We took one last quick look at the gate which was guarded by a Skyhawk (A-4L), a Phantom (F-4B) an a Harrier (AV-8A) and drove back via Interstates Eight and Ten. The next day was our final day in the States and we flew back to Holland through Newark again ending a great trip.

I like to thank Mo and Dale for a great time we had in the U.S. and especailly for your hospitality and lending your Saturn to us.