UK & USA December 2014-January 2015
At home in the UK for a week over Christmas, one day out was a drive down to Cardiff, with a look in at Kemble on the way back North. Following this, a week was then spent over in Texas, visiting places mostly for the first time, chasing classics and 'hoping' for some warm Winter weather! Flying into Dallas and connecting down to Laredo on the Mexican border, from here it was down to Brownsville before North up to Corpus Christie, San Antonio and up to a former President's ranch. Then heading East to the Houston area, calls were made at Austin and San Marcos along the way. As well as the places of interest around H-Town, a visit was also made to Conroe to the North for some very special vintage biz, before the long journey back to Bahrain...
Monday 22nd December
This first ever visit to Wales (!) was to collect some VC-10 memoribilia i had acquired, and while in the area would also visit Cardiff and St Athan (from where the part had originated!). So, an early start and the long trek straight to St Athan first, where access is difficult, so just a couple of shots from along the Northern perimeter. These included the pair of Buffalo Airways CL-215's, which use this place for long-term parking, in between contracts in Turkey. C-FAYN/282 and C-FAYU/283 both later departed back home to Yellowknife six months later. As well as these two, the only airliner parked up with 'end-of-life' aircraft salvage company eCube Solutions on for a shot, was former SAS B737-700 LN-TUI. This had arrived on the 13th from Oslo as SAS9125 on its final flight, and was registered to Capstar Aviation as N934AC (though not worn) on the 23rd. The aircraft was later moved to the scrapping area in March, before the fuselage departed by road in July.
From here it was on to Cardiff Airport, where despite the gloom, a few reasonable shots were taken from the balcony of the Cambrian Cafe Bar at the GA Southside. As well as all white ATR-42-300 EI-EHH of CityJet/Stobart Air and KLM Cittyhopper ERJ-190STD PH-EZX in 'Skyteam' colours, another arrival was BA A319 G-EUPL as BA9250 from LHR. This arrived here for temporary Winter storage with BAMC, joining G-EUPB and G-EUPJ (with G-EUPC also arriving later today). Visiting biz was BAe125-900XP G-RGSG of Hanger 8 Management Ltd ('Hangar 848' from/to Jersey) and MACH Airlines Cessna 525A D-IPCC (Marrakesh to Sylt). Finally, long-term classic 'resident' BAC1-11-510ED G-AVMT survives, minus the fin, wings and engines, still painted in European/Minardi colours with additional 'Minardi F1' titles. Last used by the Minardi team in the 2001 F1 season (as well as for other charters) it was then PWFU after its final flight back to Bournemouth in Feb 2002. Parted out in Nov 2004, it was later transported here for use as a fire service cabin trainer. 'Sad to see like this, but at least a survivor'.
Now heading back across the 'border' over the Second Severn Crossing bridge, it was then on to Kemble for a look around this 'salvage field'. Aircraft photographed with ASI (Air Salvage International) included Air Atlanta Icelandic B747-300 TF-AME still painted in Med-View (Nigeria) colours. After that lease in 2013 it was then WFU, and later arrived here in Jan 2014 for scrapping, and is now minus fin, outer wings and engines etc. Alongside was former Alitalia A321 EI-IXU, in a similar state after being WFU in September and arriving on 13th November, while a couple of other Airbus's nearby were former China Eastern A319 N303SF (ex B-2332), now registered to Apollo Aviation Group, and former AtlasJet A320-200 TC-ATJ, now registered to AJW Capital Partners. Both of these had recently arrived on the 2nd and were in a similar state, still in full colours but with engines now removed. Next to these were a pair of former Yamal Airlines B737-500's VP-BRQ and VP-BRU, both still in full colours with just their engines removed, after arriving on 14th Nov and 6th Oct respectively. From the main scrapping area to over near the ASI hangar, others included former Monarch B757-200 G-DAJB, with titles and tail logo removed. WFU and arriving last month on the 27th, this was purchased by Icelandair for parts, and was just having its second engine removed. Another arrival on the 27th, was the other former Alitalia A321 EI-IXG, which also had titles and reg removed along with the engines, after being WFU in May 2013. Then nearby, the most recent arrival was Jet2 B737-300 G-CELC, which had just been WFU on the 16th and made its final flight here two days later. Still untouched and looking nice, no doubt it wouldn't stay like that for much longer! Finally before heading home, the first shot of an aircraft on the Guernsey register (despite it being 'tin'!), was of RC114B 2-BEST (ex G-HMBJ) owned by a David Best.
Friday 26th December
Boxing Day, and an early start with a half nine flight out of Newcastle, on what was going to be a long travel-day. So checking in for Laredo, the first flight was BA1325 operated by A320 G-EUUB. Off at 0935 the 1.15 hour flight was in at LHR at 1050, before a long connection for the DFW service. Operated by B777-200ER N753AN, AA81 departed at 1530 with the 10.20 hour flight in at 1950L. Then connecting on to AA3001 to Laredo, ERJ-145LR N622AE was off at 2235, arriving 1.20 hours later at 2355. First signs were not of a nice sunny, warm week ahead in Texas, but more like a cloudy and chilly UK!
Saturday 27th December
A full day at Laredo before heading off South East towards Brownsville, this cross-border city with Mexico has a combined metropolitan area divided by the Rio Grande river. Less than three miles from Laredo International to the border, on the Mexican side Laredo-Quetzalcoatl Airport is only another four miles away. With a couple of nice vintage airliners retired here, including very rare classic B720 XA-SDL, enquiries were made into a visit, but after some advice on safety etc, it was reluctantly decided to give it a miss, so hopefully another time...
Known as a fairly busy cargo airport, Laredo has quite a few schedules as well as ad-hoc cargo flights. A few photographed today included Anchorage based Northern Air Cargo B737-300SF N361NC (the former OO-TNJ), pocket-rocket vintage DC-9-15F N917CK of Kalitta Charters II and San Antonio based cargo 'feeder' Metro III N575EG of Vent Airlines (a US subsiduary of Aeronaves TSM, as evident by the similar colour scheme). Then another, 'cross-border' cargo operator present with some very nice classic propliners was Aero JBR, with retired DC-3 XA-KTB complete but looking tatty, as well as two rare YS-11 freighters N173RV and XA-UFJ (ex N171RV). Both of these still wear the former Reeve Aleutian Airways colours, with 'UFJ certainly appearing to be active and looking fresh. Presumably connected to Aero JBR, having the same private registered owner (and in a similar scheme) was complete Convair 440 N24DR, which may also have been active.
Of the biz present, highlight was nice 1977 built classic Gulf 2SP XA-UTP. Owner and active status not known, this did later depart and was PWFU at Toluca. Then of the US biz, CL-600S N163ET had a 'ER Enterprises' logo on the inner winglets, while vintage 1970 built Learjet 24B N24JZ registered locally to Z-Air appeared to be airworthy (though maybe not active?). Finally a couple of 'tin' to mention were US CBP AS350-B2 N4059W and visiting Cessna T206H XB-MQC.
Sunday 28th December
Following the 150 mile drive to McAllen Miller Airport last night, only Mexican Citation 560 XB-IML was photographed in the rain this morning before heading off. The next two quick stops were at Mid Valley Airport, for engineless Beech G18S N219W (reg expired Nov 2013), before Valley International where only FedEx B757-200F N947FD (the former BA G-BPEC) was photographed.
From here it was on to Brownsville for the rest of the day, with the weather holding off. Near the small passenger terminal here, the renovated 1931 Pan American Airways building is also a useful photospot overlooking part of the ramp, taxiway and runway, with the airport being quite busy with biz-jets. Naturally these include plenty of Mexican visitors, with todays almost reaching double figures with Citation 550 XA-UPX of Aero WWG, Hawker 400XP XA-MEX of Aerolíneas Ejecutivas (w/o a year later at Telluride Regional, CO when it landed on a closed runway and hit a snowplough, tearing off the right wing), Hawker 900XP XA-XEL of Aero Sami (dep to Del Norte International), Citation 550 XA-LFJ, Citation 501SP XB-LVL of Cruz Aviation, Citation 500 XC-GAW of the State Gov of Tamaulipas, along with winglet-fitted Pa-31 XB-TOY (31-7912015) and 'tin' Cessna TU206G XB-BBT and Cessna T206H XB-MQC which had followed down from Laredo.
Then, US biz included smart blue Citation 560XL N960HD of Go Air (JTL960 from Omaha), Flexjet Learjet 45 N441FX, CitationJet 525B N107PT (Napa County to Liberia International, Costa Rica), 1979 vintage BAe125-700A N611MC (dep to Dallas-Love Field) and smart all grey Learjet 31A N608W of Oceanic Aircraft Inc (Eagle County to Guatemala City), along with air ambulance Beech B200 N114HB of EagleMed (EMD37 Hooks Memorial Airport to San Antonio) and 1977 vintage Beech A100 N23605 with a 'Seidler Oil & Gas' logo on the fin (dep to Fort Worth-Spinks). One US commuter of interest was ExpressJet CRJ-200 N830AS, operating in basic Continental colours with all titles and logos painted over prior to return off lease (LRF April 2015 prior to storage at Great Falls), while another interesting and fairly major operation at Laredo is JPATS (Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System). Being a border city with no doubt a sizeable issue with illegal immigrants from Mexico etc, this is one of the locations in the US that the agency regularly operate from. 'Justice' aircraft noted today were all white Swift Air B737-400 N418US which was parked up, similar N421US then arrived, followed by B737-400 N279AD of the US Marshals Service/Xtra Airways (all white with blue fin and engine nacelles), which was then loaded up with shackled 'cons' before departing.
A couple of military photographed today were visiting US Navy Beech TC-12B 161508/G-313 of VT-35/TAW-4 at NAS Corpus Christi, while long retired and looking very sad dumped beside a hangar, was the fuselage of former Finnish AF CM-170R N405DM/FM-35. Built under licence by Valmet in 1962, it was painted into French AF markings after arriving in the US. Finally, and the main reason for visiting here, was another rare old classic (especially in the US) of British vintage, in the form of Viscount 757 N3832S. Now parked on the East side of the airfield, this has been present at Laredo since arriving in early 1983 after airline sevice in Canada from 1956 to 1971 with TCA and Air Canada as CF-TGZ. Painted in Air Caravane colours in 1979 (but NTU), it was later acquired by Grupo Madero SA in Nov 1982 as N3832S (reg never applied) and ferried here from Montreal-Dorval via Burlington and Atlanta-Hartsfield. Later transferred to the Confederate Air Force in Sep 1995, it remained parked and was used by the emergency services for crash training in 2008, with the reg then expiring in June 2013. Still complete in very faded colours, but with the radome and a couple of overwing windows now missing, the aircraft's future remains uncertain...
Monday 29th December
Today's plan involved a lot of road miles, starting off at Brownsville and ending up in San Antonio after a few stops, with most time spent in the Corpus Christi area seeing the best weather of the trip. After a quick look at Brownsville, the 160 mile drive up to Corpus Christi goes past Valley International, so a second quick look around here provided a few mundane biz along with FedEx A300-600F N743FD. Continuing North past the Border Patrol checkpoint at Sarita and on to Corpus Christi Int, provided a couple of resident biz along with visiting US Customs and Border Protection Cessna 550 N1254X and Ameriflight Beech 1900C-1 N49UC, as well as two more Navy Beech's visiting from the nearby NAS, with T-44C's 160856/G-456 and 160968/G-420 of VT-31/TAW-4.
Now on to a major tourist attraction on the 'Texas Riviera'... the oldest surviving aircraft carrier in the world, the USS Lexington (CV-16). Nicknamed 'The Blue Ghost', it was the last Essex-class carrier in service, launched in 1942 and finally decommissioned in 1991, before being donated for display as a museum the following year. Moored alongside Harbor Bridge at the North end of the city, the 'USS Lexington Museum on the Bay' has a fair amount of aircraft on display, with a few highlights being blue 'Whale' KA-3B 138944, USMC F-4A 145315/WH (now marked as VMFA-542 'Tigers' from MCAS El Toro) and fantastic looking F-14A 160694/AJ-201 of VF-84 'Jolly Rogers' (disbanded at NAS Oceana in 1995). Then below deck in a restoration area, A-7B 154548/EA-412 marked as VA-215 'USS Oriskany' was being prepared for a re-paint in a curtained off area. Glorious weather here, as it was then off continuing North with another 150 miles drive on up to the next stop at San Antonio.
Tuesday 30th December
Back to the dull weather today and an attempt to shoot some of the many airframes located next to Kelly-Lackland AFB. Unfortunately, access to the Parade Ground where many aircraft are on display couldn't be arranged, which left a couple of others to go for nearby. First, to the West of the main base within the Medina Training Annex, KC-135E 57-2589 is located at the 344th Training Squadron facility. The old 'Speckled Trout' test aircraft and 'Casey 01' VIP ride is still looking good after being here for over 5 years now. Then nearby, outside the large USAF hospital, MATS Convair VT-29B 51-5172 is on display (along with a C-9A).
On to San Antonio International across the city to the North East, where more retired and stored aircraft of interest include former United Airlines B737-200 N993UA which is used as a non-destructive fire trainer. After retirement in 1998 and storage at Victorville, the aircraft was registered as N53HA with a possible sale to Rym Airlines of Algeria in 2003. After that deal fell through, the aircraft was PWFU here and later had both engines (and radome) removed, and is now propped up on wooden pallets next to the airport fire station, still in basic UA colours with titles/logos painted over. Then across the airfield on the East side, a very special classic was still surviving after arriving here several years ago. Former Italian AF B707-382B MM62150/14-03 has been one of quite a few retired 707's acquired by Omega Air for the engines and other parts. Overall grey with all markings painted over and also missing some flying controls, this was officially registered as N707FR (though not worn), with the reg officially expiring the following day (!). Great to see but sad to see another 707 go, this was broken up and scrapped in the following months during 2015.
In addition to these that sadly wouldn't fly again, several aircraft parked outside the Aero Sky MRO facility across the runway could be photographed from here, included some which will/do fly again, but also some that won't. These included classic B727-200 N406BN registered to One Charter LLC, which has now been PWFU with the engines and other parts removed. Former Braniff of course, this has had periods of recent storage at Mojave and Opa Locka before ending up here. Next to this, DC-9-30 N129GE is also PWFU and is one of several aircraft stored here belonging to Jetran/Alameda Corp. Still painted in Atlantic Express Airlines colours, after the deal with the Gambian company fell through (C5-AEG NTU), prior to this the aircraft had been painted into Bravo Air Congo colours, but again the deal had fallen through, so after periods of storage at Goodyear and Tucson it has also ended up here, where it is now engineless. Other 'Nines present were a couple of former DHL/ABX DC-9-30F's, with one still in DHL colours parked half in the hangar, while another that had found a new operator and lease of life with Everts Air Cargo was N932CE (ex N932AX), presumably just here for some Winter maintenance.
Then, two MD-80's present also belonging to Jetran/Alameda Corp, were all white MD-81 N819US which had been another victim of a failed deal. Prepared at Miami for Sosoliso Airlines of Nigeria, the titles and tail logo had been applied (with reg 5N-BGL reserved) in late 2003, but the aircraft remained parked. Later arriving here for continued storage, it is now PWFU (reg canx July 2008) with engines removed and the Sosoliso titles still barely visible. The other, still in full Spanair colours is MD-82 N905MD (ex EC-HHF) which is also stored engineless, still displaying its additional 'A Coruna, Balcón del Atlantico' logo on the rear fuselage. WFU in Nov 2008 and returned to GECAS, it was ferried to Marana for storage in April 2009 before being acquired by Jetran and ferried here in Dec 2010.
Finally for here, as well as a nice Mexican AF C-130E 3612 of 302Sq/3Gr (at Santa Lucia Airbase) present for maintenance, a few Citations photographed outside the Cessna service facility here were N176DL Citation 560XL, N521RF Citation 650 (ex D-CBIZ) and N711VP Citation 750. So now moving on, it was on to San Marcos around 45 miles to the NE. The home base of Berry Aviation, a couple of their aircraft present were all white Dornier 328 N473PS and DHC-6-300 N675BA, also all white with a para-drop door fitted, along with Merlin 4A N202WS of Harvest Two Outreach Inc (with 'H2O' on the fin). Still on the commuter twins, in a compound at the SE end of the ramp, a couple of dismantled airframes included Metro III XA-TSF in Gacela Air Cargo colours. This was leased from Berry Aviation in 2001-2002 and on return was stored engineless before ending up being dismantled, with the official reg N589BA being cancelled in June 2011.
As well as Berry's aircraft, more interest here is the Commemorative Air Force Central Texas Wing 'Ghost Squadron', who have a hangar full of warbirds. Despite being officially closed today, the good folks present still gave me full access, with some of the highlights including... TB-25N (B-25J) N25YR/43-27868/8U 'Yellow Rose', P-39Q Airacobra N6968/42-19597/68 and P-63E Kingcobra N6763/1719 (being restored), Cessna U-3A Blue Canoe (Cessna 310B) N5435A/58310 (marked USAF 2BW'), AT-6C ('Harvard') N7678Z/7678 in SAAF markings, and a couple of 'Japanese Zero's'... N7754/V107 and N2047/310 are really Harvard Mk 4's (ex RCAF), modified to represent a Mitsubishi A6M 'Zero' and a Nakajima B5N 'Kate' torpedo bomber, for the 1970 film 'Tora! Tora! Tora!'. Then on display outside the hangar, T-33A N155SF (56-1749) still has a 68thFS 'Lightning Lancers' unit badge visible on the fin, while out on the ramp a few other resident 'warbirds' present were three privately registered former RCAF CT-133's, with N479KK being ex 133479, all black N604KK ex 133604 retains the 434Sq 'Bluenose' tail band, while the unmarked example with parts missing is ex 133560. Finally, vintage 1960 built CAF 'US Navy' U-11A (PA-23-250) N4757P was looking in great condition. From here it was around 90 miles NW to the hotel at Fredericksburg.
Wednesday 31st December
With a chill now added to the grimey weather, New Years Eve was all about catching up with a few more vintage classics in this rural part of Texas, before on to Austin and the long drive over to the final stop at Houston. Starting off at nearby Gillespie County, DC-3C N8021Z (C-47A 43-15978) is now on display at the entrance to the airport and the Hangar Hotel here, after recently being moved from airside. Registered to Falcon Aero Inc in May 2000 and arriving here around 2007 from Edinburg, it has just received a makeover and is now painted in USAAF olive drab with D-Day stripes, 'Sleepy Time Gal' nose art and a 'The Great State of Texas' logo on the rudder. As well as this, outside the hotel entrance is 1946 vintage L-17 Navion N91500 painted in 'Navy' colours, which is also registered to Falcon Aero Inc.
From here, the next stop was the historic site of the President Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch and National Historical Park around 15 miles to the East in Stonewall, Gillespie County, where a very special 'private jet' can be found. On display at 'the hangar' adjoining Johnson City Airport here is LBJ's former ride VC-140B 61-2490, jokingly referred to as 'Air Force One-Half', which he used to fly to and from the ranch in. Retired by the 89thMAW in April 1987 at AMARC Davis Monthan, it was later transported here in July 2010 for restoration and display. Unusual to see another aircraft parked here, Metro III N733BH was in storage for period of time. Registered to Merlin One Aircraft LLC and still in the basic colours of previous operator Aerocon (ex CP-2500), it later departed after being sold to Sierra West/Career Aviation in May 2015. Then on to the state capital Austin, around 60 miles further East, just a quick look around here bagged former FedEx B727-200F N487FE. This was donated to the Fire Service here in Feb 2013 for non-destructive training after being retired, and now has the engines removed as well as all the FedEx logos, but is otherwise complete. One other shot here was of parked USCG MH-65D 6557 'Mobile' before continuing on East.
Around 120 miles away, not far from the Houston city limits, the grass strip 'airfield community' of Sports Flyers in Brookshire has some very unusual 'accomodation' present. Here, Joe Axline has created 'Project Freedom', 'a plane home' consisting of two retired parted-out aircraft, former SAS DC-9-40 SE-DDT and Midwest Airlines MD-81 N813ME. Of these, SE-DDT known as 'Spirit' was retired by SAS in Jan 2002 before being ferried to Roswell in Oct 2002. Officially registered as N79XS (though not worn), it was then broken up by Feb 2004 with the forward fuselage later transported to Sawgrass Mills shopping mall in Sunrise, FL for display painted in Spirit Airlines colours. It was then later transported here in Jan 2012, following N813ME known as 'Freedom'. This was retired by Midwest at Blytheville in Aug 2009, then after parting out the forward fuselage arrived here in Dec 2011. Naturally quite a long term project, this is being done to a very high quality with modern interiors and fully restored cockpits, as can be seen on Joe's web page... http://www.skycycle.info/project_freedom.htm
And so, from here it was on in to Houston via a couple of quick final stops, with the first at nearby Houston Exec, where just smart Hawker 400XP N31ST of Xxetreme Pipe Services LLC was photographed. Then on to Sugar Land Regional, a few more biz worked were resident CRJ-100LR N42WA of Kinetic Motion Inc (the former D-ACLL of Lufthansa Cityline), Learjet 60 N260BS of GGS Aviation and CL-604 N604FM of Frank's International. Finally on to the hotel close to the NASA Johnson Space Center, a visit was made to get some evening shots of the two T-38A's N900NA and N968NA on display near to the main gate, in addition to the recently arrived B747SCA N905NA at the Space Center Houston. Now with the Space Shuttle replica 'Independence' mounted on top, this was previously named 'Explorer' when on display at the Kennedy Space Center. Hopefully the B747SCA will regain its engines, as the display continues to be prepared for public opening later in 2015.
Thursday 1st January
A Happy H-Town New Year, and straight off to the biz-heaven that is Houston-Hobby. A full day here, so just the biz highlights in the gloom... resident winglet fitted Westwind 1124A N16SF of Starflite Management Group Inc, Westwind 1124 N36SF of William J. Ware (later PWFU after being sold to Dodson in June), Learjet 45 XA-UUB, impounded Learjet 31 XA-JYC of Jomar Taxi Aereo (with US Marshalls notices posted on the door), classic 1975 built 'green with red dice' Gulf 2 N468HW of Ford Electric Co (PWFU after being sold to Dodson on 22nd Jan), Global 5000 N50DS of First Southeast Aviation, early build Galaxy 1126 N818CR of Wing Aviation Charter, smart resident Gulf 280 N1FC of Gulf States Toyota (Friedkin Companies Inc), EMB-135BJ N752SP of Insperity Inc, Dornier 328JET N425FJ of Ultimate Jetcharters, departing biz B757-200 N757SS of Juliet Romeo Aviation (the former G-BKRM of Air Europe etc), Learjet 35A XB-GSM of Moldova Servicios SA, Cessna 650 XA-UIS of Vigo Jet SA, WFU 1969 vintage Gulf 2B N148V (#54) of Castle Creek Holdings Co (reg expired Dec 2013) and still operational 1975 built hush-kit fitted Gulf 2B N945PK (#165) of Lockton Enterprises Inc (hangared). Also, a few vintage props photographed, were 1961 built 'straight tail' Beech 65 N65CS of Alameda Corp and a couple of museum pieces parked outside, with Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society's smart 1942 built Lockheed 18-56 Lodestar N31G and the Marine Aviation Museum's 1944 built TB-26C N4818E 'Fire Eaters' (which featured in the 1988 movie 'Always' as 'Tanker 59' of Lynch Air Tankers). Not a bad haul today, despite the grimey weather.
Friday 2nd January
More classics on the agenda today with a visit to Conroe to the North of Houston, before back, to Houston IAH for the flight out. So, 55 miles straight to Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport, otherwise known as Lone Star Executive this morning, with a visit arranged with the Galaxy FBO to see the two ultra-classic biz based here... a pair of operational Jetstar II's. Both inside the hangar today, 1978 built N700RM (#5224) and 1977 built N710RM (#5213) are owned by Richard T. Mitchell, also a vintage car enthusiast and owner of the Old Iron Works in Montgomery, who specialise in old vintage cars. He clearly knows his vintage planes like he knows his cars! Registered with his initials, of the two Jetstars, N700RM is his main ride and has a blue colour scheme with a coat of arms style badge on the fin, while N710RM is in the same scheme but in green (and no fin badge).
Fantastic to finally catch up with these two gems, this hangar contained a lot more besides, including a couple of other biz, with Learjet 31A N31MC of Holloman Northeast LLC and very nice early build Falcon 50-4 N510GT registered to Southwest Associates LLC. In addition to the added winglets, the '50Dash4' mod includes upgrades to improved TFE731-4-1C engine spec (also with engine nozzle and nacelle mods) as well as cockpit upgrades. Nice enough this 'Fifty also has a great story, being operated by Veterans Evaluation Services, and features several unit & medal badge stickers on the door...
Still in the hangar, a couple more 'veterans' included Beech C-45CA N7185 marked as USMC 'El Toro' and Vultee BT-13A Valiant N67208 modified to look like Japanese Navy Aichi Val AI-257 for the film 'Tora! Tora! Tora!' Outside, two more 'warbirds' were a pair of former US Navy 1954 built HU-16C Albatross' with N1954Z in bare metal known as 'Zeus' and N1955G in a blue & white scheme. Both registered to Albatross Adventures LLC and parked here for long term continued care and restoration, they were joined for company by engineless 'Riley' Cessna P-337G Skyrocket XB-MBO (P337-0048). Finally for here, resident are the 1st Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, flying the AH-64D Apache. One of only a few US Army Reserve units flying the Apache, the 'Texas Thunder' transitioned from the AH-64A in 2009 and now operate AH-64D's converted from original A models. With around a dozen normally stationed at their facility on the SW side of the airfield, a public road passes very close to their ramp (infact crossing a taxyway) making shots very easy. A few caught today were 00-05196 (ex 86-08966), 99-05138 (ex 85-25460) and one other, all looking nicely 'battle worn'.
So back South to Houston IAH, a final couple of hours here provided for some more nice biz on the various FBO ramps. These included engineless Sabre 65 XB-GCU, Learjet 45 N354K of Kiewit Engineering Co, Learjet 45 N651AY of Tejas Aviation Services, Citation 650 XA-GIT, Gulf 4SP N4387, Phenom 300 N247JK of Selec Transportation Resources LLC, Falcon 900B N974BK of Oxbow Falcon LLC and 1979 vintage HS125-700A N227MM of Premier Air Center Inc (possibly WFU). Then some final airliners included AeroMexico Connect ERJ-190-100LR XA-ACM, Cathay Pacific B747-8F B-LJM, United A320 N475UA (85th Anniversary retro colours), Viva Aerobus A320 EI-EUA, Delta B717-200 N910AT, FedEx MD-10-10F N377FE (PWFU at Victorville on 18th March), and two retired ExpressJet ERJ-145EP's N14940 and N15941 both in basic Continental colours (both flown to Kingman on 6th for storage).
At the end of a good week in Texas with plenty of classics in the bag, it was only let down slightly by the gloomy weather. So now returning the rental and checking in with British Airways, it was on to BA194 to LHR. Operated by B747-400 G-CIVO, departure was at 1800 for the 7.40 hour flight, arriving at 0740L. Then connecting on to BA125 to Bahrain on the 3rd operated by B777-200 G-VIIS, departure was at 1110 for the 5.40 hour flight in at 1950L.