Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base Carswell Field is the full name of this base with a lot of variety. It used to have ICAO code KFWH but that was cancelled in June 2000, in 2013 ICAO code KNFW was issued. Apart from reserve units from the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy the base is probably best known for the Lockheed-Martin F-16 and F-35 production facility. Almost never a dull moment and hardly any hassle with the local authorities when spotting aircraft.
The base is split between the production facilities of LMTAS (on the left side of the runway) and the active military units (on the right side). The large buildings on the left contain the production facilities for the F-16 and F-35.
The base is located on the western outskirts of Fort Worth. Easily reached by taking Interstate 30 and follow the signs for the Lockheed-Martin main gate. The north side is easily reached by following the I820.
Around the Airport
Coming from Interstate 30 take the exit and follow the signs towards Lockheed/LMTAS which will go to the gate via route 341 or Lockheed Boulevard. At the beginning of the road, there is a small exit onto a dirt road along the fences. The first part has a kind of parking, together with a exit while further along the path, the bushes will restrict your progress by car. The sun will be in your face till early midday, but from 1 or 2 PM you have great light from the back. As there is only one runway all aircraft will pass this spot. Good pictures and easy viewing is guaranteed with wind from all directions. You need about 300mm (digital) for full frame fighter shots while landing. A 70-200 mm will do for bigger aircraft (C-130 etc.).According well-informed sources this spot is no longer available.
2Ridgmar Mall Parking
Coming from the I-30, take the exit towards Route 183. Take the first right towards the Ridgmar Mall. Getting shots and numbers in the morning is very good from this spot when runway 35 is in use for landing. The spot is in the parking lot of any of the frontal stores at the Ridgmar Mall, like the Taco Bell. You'll need 200 mm or more for an F-16.
Coming from the I30, take the exit towards Route 183. Follow the route untill you see a large Walmart at your left. Behind the Walmart, at the tire and lube center, you can take nice shots on the taxiway, especially in the morning. Taxi shots for fighter is between 200 and 300 mm. For runway shots you need at least 400 mm for fighters. Bring a stepladder (which can be bought at the Walmart!), or use the booth or roof of your car to get a clear view over the fence. Also when runway 17 is in use, you can make good shots from departing or landing aircraft.
4View from Golf Course
Coming from I-30, take the exit towards Route 183 and follow it until there is a large crossing with traffic lights while the road takes a bend. It crosses Roaring Springs Road and take a left here. Left of the road there will be a golf course. Follow the road with some turns until you see a small dirt road at your left and right. Park here and walk along the edge of the golf course and the base fence for a view onto the Marines Hercules apron.
While driving on the Route 183, take a right exit towards NAS Fort Worth. Park your car in the visitor parking lot at the main gate and with some caution you can see most of the gateguards just behind the gate. One F/A-18 Hornet is parked outside.
To reach this spot, follow Route 183. Take a left at Roberts Cut Off Road and a left again onto Carswell Access Road. This road will lead to the USAF gate. Stop just before the bridge and park your car. Walk left and right along the water to see some more preserved aircraft.
7Vista point 2
North of the base is a lake called Lake Worth. By taking the South Quebec Street exit of I-820 and then left on Cahoba Drive you will pass several vista points from where you have a good view on the base. The first one is a small beach from where you will be able to spot the Texas ANG Hercules aircraft. Continue and keep right and you will move uphill. At the first crossing take a right onto Roberts Cut off Road. At your right at the slope of the hills is Marion Samson Park. There are some roads to the right towards the beginning of the slope downwards, one has a parking and a covered rest area, the other has a parking and a memorial. From here, in the morning just after sunset, you can read the Texas ANG and USMC C-130s, but also the C-40s in front of their hangars. Also a view onto the LMTAS area is possible.
8Vista Point 1
When runway 17 is in use you can also position yourself to the north of Lake Worth for some landing shots. If you exit the I-820 at Cahoba Dr./Navajo Trail you will find a spot to take pictures (and read numbers) from there. You can park your car just when passing the I-820 underneath and walk along the Loop 820 perimeter road for the best landing shots. You will need a scanner to know something is arriving as you have no view onto the base. Alternatively, you can positioning yourself onto the inclined bank of the I-820 to have a view of the landing path and all departing aircraft, although these last will be unreadable. The Marines Hornets are known to make tight left hand circuits so you will need to walk along the perimeter road for best banking angles. The AFRC Vipers normally will make a right hand circuit, so these are better in the afternoon.
If you follow the Cahoba Drive to the right, you will see a small park at the end at your left. From here you will be able to see the LMTAS aircraft dumping grounds. Also you can position yourself along the water line for some good landing shots in the afternoon.
By the way, if you feel hungry, go to the Navajo Hamburger Cafe at the Shell gas station on the north side of this spot for some good burgers while still maintaining a view from the terrace onto the approach path.
A more troublesome alternative to spot 8 is renting a boat and float around the north end of the base in it. It has been done and offers great shots.
9View from LMTAS parking
Coming from the I-30, take the directions via Lockheed Boulevard/Route 341 towards LMTAS. After passing LMTAS at your right, take a right onto Bomber Road. Follow it all to the end and drive onto the LMTAS parking area. Drive towards the end to have a view onto several aprons here. Do not take any pictures and maintain low profile as you are trespassing on LMTAS property.
Coming from the I-30, take the directions via Lockheed Boulevard/Route 341 towards LMTAS. At the bend of the road, across the main gate of LMTAS, you might be able to see into some hangars. Not good for photography but for numbers you might be lucky and score some exotic F-16s/F-35s.
11At the bend
Coming from the I-30, take the directions via Lockheed Boulevard/Route 341 towards LMTAS. Take the exit to the right towards White Settlement, onto White Settlement Road. This road takes a right bend along the base fence. However you can not park here anymore, so continue and park your car onto the grass strip to your right, after you have passed the perimeter road called Grant Road. Walk back and take a some five-step stair with you as you will need this to look over the fence. Take-off shots are good, landing shots as well, however heatwaves could be a problem.
Nice banking shots of local Hornets are possible from Spot 3 with southerly winds. (Piet Luijken)
This Raptor was shot from spot 11, while standing on medium height steps. (Keith Robinson)
|121.675 / 279.575||Ground|
|126.400 / 254.325||CLNC DEL|
|269.325 / 284.725||Tower|
|118.100 / 119.870 / 124.250||Regional approach/departure|
|124.300 / 125.200 / 125.800||Regional approach/departure|
|125.950 / 257.950 / 291.725||Regional approach/departure|
|306.950 / 338.200||Regional approach/departure|
|371.875 / 128.775||Arrival|
|138.950 / 140.175 / 140.200||301st FW Ops|
|252.525 / 318.650||VMFA-112 Ops|
|143.800 / 226.900 / 389.100||181st AS Ops|
|123.575 / 284.100 / 292.500||Lockheed Ops|
|B. Company, 90th (Aviation) Support Battalion||maintenance on CH-47, UH-60 and OH-58.|
|339th MI Co/USARC||C-12R+|
|67-0375/TH||F-4E (as 66-375)|
|163569/TF||F-16N, as USAF 86-301|
|33845||TV-1 (as USAF T-33A '58607|
|47-1392||F-80C, as 0-56607|
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