Where? Valdosta, Georgia. Very southern Georgia and about an hour and a half from Jacksonville, Florida.
The friends I visited in Europe are now assigned to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, so I came to visit. There isn’t much to do here… believe me! However, Josh gave us the flight schedule for exercises so we could go watch the A-10s. Josh is a fighter pilot and flies an A-10 himself. Affectionately titled the Warthog, the A-10 may not be the sexiest looking jet out there, but it’s the most likely to bring its pilot home safe and sound. There’s a titanium bathtub under the pilot, it can fly with one engine out and chunks missing from one wing and the tail, and it shoots shells the length of an adult humerus at an outrageous speed. It’s often called the tank killer.
So onto this photo… the flying range just beyond those trees was closed for the week so we couldn’t go watch the guys drop bombs and strafe targets. Boo. We could, however, catch landings and take offs. The A-10 has a very loud, distinctive whine to its engines–important detail. We went to a park across from the tarmac and watched to A-10s taxi from their hangers (which resemble overgrown carports) to the field house where their arms are checked. These two planes had completed their checks and had just started taxiing around the tarmac to the runway. Four A-10 engines are very loud and whiny. They are so loud, in fact, that I had no idea another jet was approaching with the intent to land. I was shooting the two planes on the ground when the third flew into my photo. How nice of him! (The pilot’s a ‘he’, I promise!) It ended up being the money shot of the day, but one that was a complete fluke.
Funnier still, I shot it from the top of the jungle gym on the playground in order to get above the trees and fences at the park. It worked like a charm. Nothing like a little Yankee ingenuity, right?
Hopefully, I’ll be back to visit Josh and Jackie in a few months… for a week. I want to fly into Atlanta and tool around there a bit and then head back here to Valdosta. Jackie’s going to have Josh check the flight and exercise schedules and I’ll plan my visit around that so’s he can get me out to the range to watch the guys blow stuff up and fire rounds of ammo the length of your humerus. Niiice!
And by the way, if you enlarge the photo, you can see vapor from the engines. Serious.