Wednesday, December 28, 2011

P-3 Orion Touch and Go

It happens everyday around the United States.  The men in charge of protecting this nation practice their profession.  Pilots need to keep proficient and be ready for the day they are needed.  Today, I just happened to have my camera and be in the right place at the right time.

A Navy P-3C Orion, flying from Whidbey Island NAS, made some touch and goes this morning.  My daughter and I were fortunate that our location and schedule permitted us to watch him make a few passes.

After a quick perusal of the NAS Whidbey Island site, I suspect this one is from VP-40, the Fighting Marlins.  Of course, the military is notoriously tight-lipped about such things, so getting a straight answer is unlikely.  Believe me, I tried calling.  I'm not certain what good that kind of information could do anyone with bad intentions, but I would not want to put any fighting men/women at risk, so I'll leave it at that.

 The P-3 is an anti-submarine maritime patrol aircraft.  When hunting submarines the tail boom is used to search for magnetic anomalies, which a submarine would qualify as, since it is a large chunk of metal in an otherwise, non-metallic area.  To track a submarine they can also launch sono-buoys, which can either actively or passively listen for the movements of a large underwater vessel and transmit what it hears back to the aircraft.  You can see where sono-buoys are launched from, the area of dots inside the rectangle near the tail.

As a patrol aircraft, it's duty is to go for long flights over vast distances.  Why they train over land is beyond me, but I am certain it has something to do with availability of runways.  Who knows?
 Never let it be said that the boys in uniform are just taking it easy.  These guys were working hard today!  I just wish they'd drop me an email so I could be prepared with my camera!

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