Friday, April 4, 2008


I'm sure you all know what a annoyance the sound the alarm clock makes in the morning is. I think I would welcome that incessant buzzing right now. We were awakened this morning by the sound of a fighter plane flying overhead. If you didn't get up, don't worry, another one came by soon after. Oh that's right, we're in a Naval AIR Facility! The place where the Blue Angels call home in the winter.

Actually, it wasn't the Blue Angels we heard as they left here in mid-March for their show tour. Thank heavens!

A little history on where we are....

The facility was commissioned on May 1, 1946, as a Naval Air Station. Prior to that, the base was a Marine Corps Air Station. Through the years, Navy El Centro has had several names: Naval Air Facility, Naval Auxiliary Landing Field, Naval Air Station, and the National Parachute Test Range.

For the first 35 years, the mission of NAF El Centro was devoted to aeronautical escape system testing, evaluation, and design. In November 1947, the Parachute Experimental Division from Lakehurst, New Jersey moved to El Centro. In 1951, the Joint Parachute Facility was established and consisted of the Naval Parachute Unit and the Air Force 6511th Test Group (Parachute). The Air Force remained part of El Centro’s test organization for the next 27 years.

Currently, the facility has two operating runways. The 9,500-foot east/west runway handles 96 percent of the traffic. It is equipped with a Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System at each approach end as well as lighted carrier deck landing areas at both ends so pilots can simulate carrier landings.

Apart from "touch and go" landings and take-offs, aircrews use the many ranges at NAF El Centro to develop their skills. A remote-controlled target area allows naval aviators to practice ordnance delivery. The desert range is used for air-to-ground bombing, rocket firing, strafing, dummy drops and mobile land target training. The target complex uses the Weapons Impact Scoring System that microwaves target images to a range master control building for immediate verification of weapons delivery accuracy.

The addition of the Display and Debriefing Subsystem, known as DDS, expanded the role of NAF El Centro to include air combat training by utilizing remote television, acoustical and laser scoring systems. The DDS is linked with TACTS to provide a computerized record of the tactics employed by individual aircrews and to evaluate the effectiveness of each maneuver. Many believe the training at NAF El Centro is as close as pilots can get to actual air combat.

We also learned that much of the movie "Jarhead" was filmed around El Centro and many of the extras from the movie were from NAF El Centro.

I was told by one of our neighbors that in 2 or 3 days we won't even hear them anymore. We'll see.

Bob got the camera out this morning and took some shots of the planes as they flew overhead.


We got more settled in today and gathered information such as maps etc from the RV Park office.

This afternoon we went to the commissary. Its been quite awhile since I shopped in one. It isn't a very large one but it had most everything we needed and wanted. The best part was we didn't drive a mile to and from. A huge difference from Arizona City.

The planes were overhead a good part of the day today but by late afternoon I hardly noticed them unless I was outside.

It got quite warm here today, 88 degrees and sunny. It is supposed to be like this all week.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

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