Luke AFB, if you like the F-35 Lightning II, this is heaven. With its great weather, the state of Arizona provides excellent training opportunities.
Run by the 56th FW ('LF') of the Air Education and Training Command, Luke AFB also hosts the Reservists of the 944th FW that borrow aircraft from the AETC units.
Luke AFB is located on the Western outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. Take Interstate 10's exit East Estrella Parkway, Route 303. After three and a quarter mile you cross West Camelback Road, which is on the Southern side of the map above.
When visiting Luke AFB, as important as with any other US military installation: you should stay at all times away from the fence to avoid problems with the base security forces.
The south western end is the quiet area at Luke AFB. During most of the day spot 1 is perfect for aircraft landing at 3L and, with a little help from a shallow flown approach pattern, 3R. Going up and down Alsup Road (formerly N 159 Avenue) will ensure nice pictures of Falcons on short final. Depending on the runway and your relative position you will need 150 to 600 old fashioned millimeters to get a Falcon in full frame.
Interesting fact for our digital photographers: the northern runway is mostly in use for touch and goes, the southern one for departures and recoveries. Most of the touch and goes are performed with two ships, one of them keeping right of the runway and going around with full throttle. As the soil is very dry here the risk of sand getting in your camera is significant.
As the sun moves during the day, W Bethany Home Rd becomes more and more favourable for photographing aircraft approaching the Runways 3L and 3R. You will be needing 200mm for 3L, and 800mm for 3R. Be advised, the road between spots 1 and 2 is not negotiable by car, only by foot.
During most of the day keeping East of the approaches to runways 21 results in great shots of all aircraft landing on any of the runways 21. If you have a longer lens, standing just East of the crossroads with N. Litchfield road is better. It is legal to park there and you can do that beside the road oppiste the fields of the Garden centre.
NOTE: the whole road along the fence line on the North side is a 'no stopping' area. Best to park East of the crossroads with N. Litchfield road for spot 3 and West of the Westernmost sign for spot 4.
The Runways 21 are the favoured runways at Luke AFB. Spot 4 is great for aircraft landing on 21L and 21R in the late afternoons and evenings.
NOTE: the whole road along the fence line on the North side is a 'no stopping' area. Best to park West of the Westernmost sign for spot 4 and East of the crossroads with N. Litchfield road for spot 3.
In the pre-sun shelter time at Luke AFB spot 5 could be used to read of a significant amount of F-16s on the ramps. This is a bit more difficult now, also because the F-35s are more tricky to read off. In any case, this spot is still useable for the number crunchers among us as you have a distant view on all interesting areas of the airfield, provided the heat haze is working with you. Best in the afternoon.
6Behind the warehouses
In recent years Southern USA is being filled with enormous warehouses. Luke's surrounding are littered with them. For now, this leads to opportunities to get closer to the fence as some are not yet operational (built with growth in mind.) Behind the second from the North seems best suited to our purposes.
This based R.Sing.AF F-16 was shot just east of spot 4 (Jason Hyatt)
Spot 1 for Runway 3R is a bit too close/underneath unless you trespass into farmland. (Erwin van Dijkman)
|273.475 / 126.250||Clearance Delivery|
|335.800 / 133.175||Ground|
|379.700 / 119.100||Tower|
|282.250 / 120.500||Approach (west & north)|
|263.125 / 125.450||Approach (south)|
|269.900 / 134.925||ATIS|
|309th FS||F-16CM/DM, bl/wh|
|310th FS||F-16CM/DM, gn/ye|
|69th FS||F-16CM/DM, bk/rd|
|944th OG Det.2 (RoKAF)||F-35A|