Photo Report : Star Wars Canyon - March 2019
Star Wars Canyon - March 2019, Death Valley, CA
Dave O'Brien captured a pair of U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning IIs and multiple Hornets flying the famous Jedi transition.
While on his trip to attend the second Red Flag exercise of 2019, Dave O'Brien also visited Rainbow Canyon in Death Valley National Park, California. Named Star Wars Canyon because of its proximity to filming locations for the original Star Wars movie, the area provides excellent photography opportunities when military aircraft pass through the narrow canyon entering what is known as the Jedi Transition for low-altitude flight training. Military flights here date back to World War II.
March 13, 2019
On March 13th, from a shooting location up on the Saddles, a number of Hornets could be photographed. The first shown here is a F/A-18E Super Hornet from the VFA-113 Stingers based at NAS Lemoore, CA.
Almost an hour later, a two ship of Super Hornets called in entering the canyon. Two F/A-18E Super Hornets from the VFA-143 Pukin Dogs of NAS Oceana, VA, made 2 passes from east to west, which isn’t the standard direction when flying the canyon.
It wasn’t until later that afternoon till the next visitor entered the canyon, a USMC F/A-18C Hornet from VMFA-314 Black Nights based out of MCAS Miramar, CA.
The final catch of the day was the EA-18G Growler electronic attack variant from the Air Test Evaluation Squadron VX-31 Dust Devils based out of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, CA.
March 14, 2019
On March 14th, the day was spent at Father Crowley’s extension. Two U.S. Navy F-35Cs from the VX-9 Vampires entered the Jedi Transition using callsign Vampire 11. The F-35C is the carrier conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant of the F-35 Lightning II produced for the U.S. Navy. The F-35C's are part of the F-35 Joint Operational Test Team based at Edwards AFB, CA. The first one dove over Panorama and down into the Canyon and then pulled up right in front of Father Crowley Overlook, it was an epic flight! His wingman followed him over Panoroma, but continued into the canyon.
High up in the clear blue skies, a Boeing 747 was spotted. This aircraft is the GE Propulsion Test Platform testing the GE9X developed by General Electric for the Boeing 777X. At 11:30 another EA-18G Growler from the Dust Devils came through the canyon.
The next visitor didn’t call in till 1:10pm. This was an F/A-18E Super Hornet from VFA-146 Blue Diamonds, based out of NAS Lemoore, CA. Right behind him was two ship F/A-18E Super Hornets from NAS Lemoore's VFA-113 Stingers.
Somewhat later seen from the location Panorama, an F-16C Aggressor from the 64th AGRS based at Nellis AFB, NV, was seen entering Jedi Transition.
At 3:45, Vampire 11 called back in hot to the Canyon. Both of the F-35C Lightning IIs came over a ridge behind Panorama and then around and into the canyon.
A F/A-18F Super Hornet from VFA-87 Golden Warriors based out of NAS Lemoore, CA, followed the Vampire flight.
At 4:43 a F/A-18F from VFA-122 Flying Eagles came in high over pano and dove into the canyon from the North, and then came back around and came in from the South and the RIO gave all the photographers a wave.
Almost an hour later, at 5:30 Fury 51 flight called entering Jedi transition. This was a two ship of VFA-113 Stingers F/A-18E Super Hornets, with the flight lead being the CAG (Commander Air Group) aircraft of the unit.
Photos by Dave O'Brien ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 11 January 2020