Basevisit NAS Fallon 2016
Naval Air Station Fallon has its origins in 1942, when the Civil Aviation Administration and the Army Air Corps began building four airfields in the Nevada desert. As part of the Western Defense Program, to defend for an expected Japanese attack on the West Coast. The Korean conflict restored life to the small Air Station in the desert. Once again, the Navy found reason to train pilots in its new, sophisticated jet aircraft.
In 1984, the Naval Strike Warfare Center was established. It quickly became the “graduate-level” education that air wings went through during their training.
In 1985, Fallon received a new tool for aircrew training: the Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System. This system provides squadrons, carrier air wings and students from the Naval Strike Warfare Center with visual, graphic displays of their missions. As seen in the movie “Top Gun”. By the way, most of the sequences of the aircraft maneuvering over land were shot at NAS Fallon.
During the 1990s, the base continued to expand its role. To accommodate the move of Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) and Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School (Top Dome) from San Diego.
In July 1996, the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center was commissioned, combining the functions of TOPGUN, the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School and the Naval Strike Warfare Center into one command. The training center has continued to teach all aspects of tactical integrated air warfare.
I heard only excellent feedback from people whom already had the privilege to visit this base. So when 4Aviation offered a tour to the west coast of the US with a visit to this field, I eagerly signed on.
We were greeted by our guide PAO Zip Upham at the pass office. Nearby were already some airframes competing for our attention. But we had to be patient for those.
After the necessary checks we were allowed on base, so we followed Zip in our rental cars to the parking lot near the operational platform. Passing by the impressive on base airpark on our way over there.
Once on the platform there were few limitations. No pictures of aircraft with open panels, either for maintenance or during startup. And that was it. Before the flying started we were allowed to walk the entire platform to take as much pictures as we needed. Startup procedures of the local F-5 Agressors were observed from close quarters. Taxiing out right in front of us. After this we regrouped near the edge of the platform to watch the other jets, mostly F/A-18 Hornets, come to life. All pilots made the effort to taxi close by in front of our lenses. Sadly the group was too big, otherwise standing near the active runway would be no problem, as Zip explained. A opportunity missed.
After a few hours of fun on the operational platform, Zip called it a day. Off we went to the airpark. A reasonable collection of various western and their former adversary aircraft are on display. Final stop were the gate guards.
Now the visit was really over. And to be fair one of the best base visits I ever experienced. Thanks Zip Upham for the patience and for understanding our needs as photographers.
Text & Photography: Ludo Kloek