Blue Angels Arrive at NAF El Centro on Saturday January 2nd 2016

by Eric Swain

On Saturday January 2nd 2016 SwainBros in conjunction with the Imperial Valley Press was invited out to photograph the arrival of the Blue Angel’s and the entire support crew at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, CA., or NAF El Centro as the locals call it. This year the team is led by first year Squadron Commander, Commander Ryan Burnacchi.

Cross Country

Leaving at 9:00am PST the Support Team flying in a Boeing C-40 Clipper left Pensacola Florida in route to NAF El Centro was scheduled to arrive at 1:00pm PST with the Blue Angel’s F/18 Hornets scheduled to depart from Pensacola an hour later giving the Support Team a little time to debark and intercept the jets as they landed. At 1:12pm PST the Support Team landed successfully from their non-stop flight at NAF El Centro and 10 minutes later the Blue Angels could be seen from the sky, causing the Ground Crew to scramble to get into position to intercept the planes once they landed.

The Arrival

The Blue Angel’s arrival back to NAF El Centro is their start to their Winter Training Program as they fly over the sky in the Imperial Valley. During the time here they will train and learn to fly in tight formation while completing aerial acrobatics maneuvers and will kick off their season with an Air Show scheduled in March 2016.

Our Role

SwainBros and the Imperial Valley Press teamed up to cover this event and we were asked to capture this event for an editorial spread slated for Sunday. With two camera bodies in hand and using two different lenses to cover focal lengths from 24mm to 300mm we went out and captured the moment as it unraveled. Our goal was to use a crop sensor body with a 70-200mm lens to extend the focal reach by 1.6x while the planes were in the air and a 24-105mm mounted on a full frame body to capture the plane once it landed and we were able to be close up.


We were successful in capturing the moment and we had the pleasure of meeting a few other people out there that had their hand in putting this all together. Public Affairs Officer Kristopher Haugh and Scott and Lisa Plummer of were great to work with and we look forward to working with them in the very near future on another Blue Angels project as well as the upcoming Air Show in March.

Check out the photo’s here and let us know what you think.

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