Saturday, June 27, 2009

Warning and Control Overhead NEVER Looked or Sounded More Serious

I was meandering around the southern portion of Tampa this afternoon and found some interesting buildings and what-nots to photograph. I shouldn't have been surprised to find a giant circus-like fireworks tent being erected and had a ball watching it and taking a few pics. Turns out it was a very colorful subject that I posted one on Tampa Daily Photo. But while on that drive I got to the very end of a street that borders federal property; Tampa is home to MacDill Air Force Base. The base has been an important part of our community from the late 1930s and is proud to have two of the nine U.S. military unified commands: United States Central Command and United States Special Operations Command. Both have important, lead responsibilities for our presence in the Middle East and in other parts of the world. MacDill is also home to the 927th Air Refueling Wing which is host to the others on base. The refueling wing flies KC-135 jet tankers. You can't imagine my surprise when as I came to the dead-end, and was starting to make a u-turn to head back toward home, this incredible flying machine went right over my head. With its landing gear, it appeared to be landing at the air base. I felt like I could reach up and touch it and looking through the camera it appeared to be an arms length away. This plane, the E-3 Sentry, the AWACS, is pretty unique in our military tool box and there aren't but a few of them flying. I found online a lot of information about this very special plane its function is to serve as an airborne surveillance and command aircraft for control and communication. It carries a flight crew of 4 and 13 AWACS specialists. Its wingspan is 145 ft. 9 in. and length is 152 ft. 11 in. I felt and sensed every inch of its width and length as it passed right over my head. The plane, according to one website, here, is built by Boeing Defense & Space Group to carry out airborne surveillance, and command, control and communications functions for both tactical and air defence forces. They played a major role in the United Nations' enforcement of the no-fly zone over Bosnia and during the Kosovo crisis. AWACS aircraft were also used by the USAF during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. These remarkable aircraft have performed some critical missions for our U.S. military. To see one, ever, especially flying this low and slow at the end of a runway, was a great thrill. Words can't describe what I felt as I clicked the shutter and the plane was quickly out of my camera range. Good thing digital is so immediate or I would have been crazy waiting for film to reveal that I had gotten the one shot.


  1. Big Brother!
    It does sound awesome the way you've described it. I was wondering what the flying saucer thingamajig was — must be all the surveillance equipment?

  2. Impressive plane, and a very good photo.