Savannah – In my last Savannah Sentry update, I mentioned that it would probably be the last one except for a final wrap up. Well, I was wrong. This will be the last one except for a final wrap up. Yesterday I was on my way to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge to “recharge the batteries” and take some photos when I decided to drop by the airport and see if there were any of the Hawaii ANG F-22s still around. On Saturday evening, I saw an email from one of the MilAir email groups that a flight of four had to land out west due to a tanker issue and that a second cell was due to move on Sunday so I thought maybe I might I might be able to catch something. I certainly did, I ended up being able to combine a Savannah NWR trip with some good mobile monitoring (and not for the first time).
The first thing I saw when I got close to the airport on GA 307 was the tail of a C-17 with HH markings on it rising above the buildings and hangars of the Savannah CRTC. The HH and tail stripe indicate that it is a C-17 from the 15th AMW/154th Wing at Joint Base Pearl Habor-Hickam. Presumably it is here to help with deploying the 154th Wing F-22s back to Hawaii from their participation in Savannah Sentry. I took a couple of photos of it and when I got home later in the day I was able to read the tailnumber on it: 05-5150. I wasn’t around the radios all day Sunday but while I was, I never heard the C-17 depart nor did I see anything on my Mode-S log for it (although the Radar Box didn’t seem to catch its arrival either). As far as I know, it is still at the CRTC.
I also saw four 154th Wing F-22s on the CRTC with cockpits up and activity around the aircraft. They were obviously getting ready to move so I hung around the area for awhile and listened in on their activity on 237.000, the CRTC Ops frequency. As JEST 91-94 flight, the F-22s were preparing to depart and were given and update on RUMMY 41, the tanker they were supposed to meet up with. It was not going to be an easy morning for them, though – things were not going smoothly. The #4 jet had a number of problems with the major one what was apparently a hydraulics issue. After trying to get to the FAA to push back their airspace reservation with no success, the DCO and flight lead finally decided to push two of the jets with two remaining back until #4 could be repaired. The original JEST 93 and 92 departed just before 0930 local as JEST 91/92, using 298.300 for air-to-air. While I wasn’t around the radios for all of Sunday, I never heard the remaining two depart and I think that they’re still at Savannah.