Sunday, February 20, 2011

CONA Sundowner

I had the good fortune to get media access to the opening event in the year-long Centennial of Naval Aviation (CONA) celebration. The kick-off occurred February 12th at NAS North Island. Not only did we get to shoot from a very advantageous spot on Saturday during the show, but we were able to acquire ramp access to MCAS Miramar, where most of the military aircraft participating in the Parade of Flight and CVW-9 flyover were staging from, and Brown Field, where the vintage warbirds were based.

I will post photos from those various venues over the next few days. This will include the specially marked "retro-camouflage" painted aircraft. Many of those were in attendance at North Island and were a thrill to see. Fortunately most were there on the Friday media-only day. The rest we were able to catch on Saturday before the public was allowed onto the ramp.

This Northrop (now Northrop Grumman) F-5N Tiger II is from VFC-111 "Sundowners." I was excited to see the full-color tail CAG (Commander Air Group) bird. Usually one airplane per squadron (maybe two) gets the full color treatment as it is reserved for the CAG to fly, if he chooses. It is also the squadron show bird, which is why some go all out on the schemes. In this day and age of gray airplanes it is a refreshing throwback to the Golden Ages of Naval aviation - the 1930s yellow wings and the 1960s vibrant colors in the squadrons.

This one has it all - brilliant tail and sharkmouth to boot: just like the F-14s and F-4s before them. It is one beautiful plane, and a Northrop one at that!

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