Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state opened its gates on June 25th, 2016 for a great open house. Whidbey Island is the home of the US Navy Electronic Attack Wing Pacific and Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 10.
Entering the base you soon see row upon row of US Navy Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and Boeing E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft but given this is an active base they were very strict on the “you can look but don’t take photos” policy for anything outside of the designated open house areas and of course the air displays (yes they checked mine and many other people’s cameras to make sure we followed the rules). I had no problem with any of that as national security comes first and I would rather they allow people on to the base for the day with restrictions, rather than not at all (security in general was tight on what you could bring in with you and armed personnel were all about)!
The main open house area had representatives from each squadron based at Whidbey Island (they had lots of squadron t-shirts, coins, patches, posters etc. for sale) and of course the main attractions included aircraft that are currently based there: Boeing E/A-18G Growler, Lockheed P-3C Orion, Lockheed EP-3E AIRES II (Airborne Reconnaissance Integrated Electronic System) signals intelligence (SIGINT)/electronic reconnaissance aircraft and the Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawk search and rescue helicopter. In the public display area these were joined by a soon to be new tenant and replacement for the P-3C Orion at Whidbey Island, the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. It was very interesting seeing the P-3C and P-8A side by side and also touring the cockpits and workstations within the aircraft (more on that in my next post).
Flying displays included a flag flyby and later a Search And Rescue (SAR) demonstration by a MH-60S Knighthawk. Later a four ship group of E/A-18 Growler aircraft conducted some formation flying and touch and go landings to demonstrate the type of flight training conducted at NAS Whidbey Island.
In addition to the flying there were also weapons displays, K-9 and bomb disposal unit robot demonstrations, plus the Navy Band Northwest were rocking away to keep people entertained throughout the day (they even played some Weezer!). Bus tours were also conducted around the base but I never got the chance to take one. All in all a great day!