Now they've had a fairly bad winter in Nevada so this year we went equipped with all manner of gear to tackle the Tikaboo Peak Ski Resort. Ski poles, thermals, proper ski boots etc. Guess what: yes it was a little tricky on-piste with a light dusting of fresh snow as the freezing level was 7000feet or so. But we also managed to catch a really beautiful day and had to take most of the thermal wear off once atop the mountain.
The base security didn't seem at all interested in us this year. We were hardly trying to be incognito with our multicoloured attire. We watched the MH-60 (callsign Rabid 26) do its tour of the perimeter at least twice.
The most exciting happening was this: four fastmovers taking the runway at 1340 local.
The fastmovers comprised
Rabbit 86 (lead) : MiG-23? (maybe MiG-29)
Rabbit 89: Su-27?
Rabbit 66: F-16 chase of Rabid 86
Rabbit 67: F-16 chase of Rabid 89
They departed as Rabbit 86 flight, played high level above the cloud which had bubbled up during the afternoon for 30 mins then returned to the base for some Simulated Flame Out practice and circuits 'n' bumps. After the two Russians landed the F-16s played on their own for another 30 mins or so. We can't be absolutely definite about the types as this time the aircraft didn't get too close to us (save Rabbit 86/66 which did at least go overhead Tikaboo).
Rabbit 86 landed first and got a 'good chute' call from Rabbit 66. Rabid 89 followed and had no call so we assumed it did not use a chute. Subsequently the two aircraft were watched from the end of runway 32 to the Red Hat hangars. The first MiG (assumed Rabbit 86 as it landed first) kept its chute attached and went in the forward right hangar (as the MiG-29 did on our 2003 visit) and the Su-27 with no chute went round the back i.e. did not park in the same hangar. The F-16s also went down the taxiway to the right (north) of the northerly Red Hat hangar when they landed. Naturally the lack of a chute could suggest to the suspicious that the Su-27 was a F-15 but it appears that although the Su-27 can be chute-equipped they elect not to use them in normal ops and indeed it didn't use a chute in 2003 when we were better able to identify the aircraft. Plus I don't believe that a F-15 would require a F-16 chase plane to call '3 down, flaps up' and 'clean and dry' on every circuit. Not quite sure why they need to do this for a Russian type, but.....
The small Janets still park to the south of Taxiway F i.e. south of the huge hangar 18. And they still use the last digit of their numerical registration as their radio callsign after the 'callsign of the month'. This month it was 'Joker' - all the Janet types used this and the base aircaft used Rabbit (or Rabid, difficult to tell).