The traditional video by the Hornet squadrons based at NAS Oceana, has become a sort of short movie featuring day and night catapult launches and trap landings, low level flying, dogfights, aerial refuelings and more.
Strike Fighter Ball 2019 is the latest chapter in the “Ball” series (“Hornet Ball”, “Rhino Ball” and “Strike Fighter Ball” ), a quite popular yearly compilation of the best videos filmed during the previous 365 days by U.S. Navy pilots and WSOs (Weapons Systems Officers) of “legacy” F/A-18A-D Hornets and F/A-18E/F Super Hornets (and, more recently F-35C Joint Strike Fighters).
The video, that this year has been dedicated to the memory of Lt. Charles Z. Walker, 33, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151, the “Vigilantes” based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, California, who lost his life in the crash of a Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 in the Rainbow Canyon low flying training area, feature the daily activities of the U.S. Navy squadrons based at NAS Oceana: day and night catapult launches and trap landings, low level flying, live firing activity, ATFLIR footage, dogfights, aerial refueling and so on.
Strike Fighter Ball 2019 features also footage of some Beech T-34C Turbo Mentor trainers sporting the markings of VFA-122 based at NAS Lemoore, California. While no longer used for basic training activities, several T-34Cs remain in service as aerial spotter aircraft with F/A-18 Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS) and Strike Fighter Weapons and Tactics Schools at NAS Oceana, Virginia; NAS Lemoore, California; and MCAS Miramar, California; and the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) at NAS Fallon, Nevada. Noteworthy, one of T-34C can be seen flying low and fast over some Su-27/MiG-29 mock-ups with a Russian Flanker’s color scheme, like the one at Creech AFB, Nevada. Are you able to tell us where that segment was filmed? If so, leave a comment below or send us an email.
Noteworthy, Strike Fighter Ball 2019 shows also some interesting close encounters, like the one with a Russian Navy Tu-142 Bear-F long-range maritime patrol reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
On Oct. 2, 2019 the last US Navy F/A-18C Hornet performed its official final active duty flight at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, escorted by three F/A-18F Super Hornets. The last flight was operated by Strike Fighter Squadron 106 (VFA-106) “Gladiators”, the Navy’s East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron, which trains naval aviators to fly the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Before this last flight the “Gladiators” operated a mixed fleet of F/A-18C/D Hornets and F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. The unit is also one of the squadrons that made up the US Navy’s Tac Demo Teams, together with the Flying Eagles of VFA-122 out of NAS Leemore, California.