Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport
Photo Report
    Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport

    Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport

    Photographer: Frank Grealish
    Date: January 2011
    Location: Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport

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    Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, formerly known as Williams Gateway Airport, is a commercial airport located in Mesa, Arizona, United States. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport used to be Williams Air Force Base, a USAF training facility that housed the 82d Training Wing, flying the Cessna T-37 "Tweet" and the Northrop T-38 Talon.

    Most, if not every weekend, military visitors descend upon this airport, some of which are transiting through the airport while others deploy there for the weekend.

    Willie, as it is affectionately known by the local photographers, is a popular airport with photographers from near & far... Bill, one of the locals, told me that he stores step ladders for a few English photographers who regularly pass through the area and visit the airport.

    Afternoon Photography
    Because of the orientation of the runway (North-West to South-East), the sun for photography only comes good after midday, as a result most photographers go to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in the morning and aim to arrive at Gateway around noon.

    Over the course of the weekend aircraft from the US Air Force, US Marines and US Navy were present, I was hoping to catch my first glimpse of the new AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters but unfortunately that wasn't to be.

    As it turns out there was a good selection of aircraft passing through, with everything from a black Beale T-38 Talon to a VMM-166 MV-22B Osprey complete with stylized "007" code number.

    Other visitors included four VMA-513 "Nightmares" AV-8B Harriers and four VMFAT-101 "Sharpshooters" F/A-18C & D Hornets, with single examples each of a T-6 Texan II, TC-12B, CH-46, C-21, all topped off by an immaculate USMC C-20G.

    The picture gallery below show what can be expected at Gateway at the weekend, military aircraft from any branch of the US military can show up, sometimes a few warbirds are thrown in for good measure.