MAFEX field report (Nov 17, 2010)
by Peter Forkes

MAFEX was yesterday (Wednesday November 17th) and seemed to stick with the same format as the one in May.

Nine of us turned out for this one, meeting a Joerg's place in Rachel, then formed a convoy of 5 cars out to the viewing point near to Keno.

We got the the site at about 9:30 and were treated to some Weapons School flying, way about us (F-15s, F-16s and possibly F-18s) leaving trails in the sky, and just being identifiable with 18x50 imaging stabilizing binoculars.

Just after 1 pm the first C-17A appeared on the horizon, to the north. This was the first of 12 C-17As that flew VERY low over the Keno air strip before turning west. They were flying in groups of three (four groups in all).

Next came the C-130s (either 19 or 20 of them) again flying VERY low, following the same pattern as the C-17As.

About half an hour later the first C-17A came in and landed at Keno, kicking up a HUGE amount of dirt. It taxied to the end of the run way and turned around. the second C-17A came in and did the same thing as the first, parking close to it. Then a third one came in an parked with the other two. As they were landing they were dropping flares and Smoky Sams were being launched from the north end of the runway as they were landing Then each one took off, heading north and turning to the west. the second C-17A to take off did a very sharp turn and flew straight over us. The the third one took off.

Way to the north we could see two C-17As circling and eventually each of those came in and landed at Keno. At about 20,000 feet above us was a UAV (I believe it was a Reaper). The first of these two flew over the runway, turned to the east and flew around us, before landing.

The two C-17As spent a LONG time at the far end of the Keno runway and it would seem it was because they had lost nine passengers (who they eventually found at the end of the runway).

By 4 o'clock the last two C-17As had taken off and so did we.

Again, we were the subject of quite a lot of radio traffic (they weren't sure it were had handheld missiles (they were just long telephoto lenses).

To me, this is a better exercise to watch than Red Flag. With Red Flag it's hit and miss as to whether you might see anything. With MAFEX it seems to follow the same format each time, and you can get as close to the aircraft, and runway, as you would if you were standing at the Speedway on Las Vegas Blvd watching then take off from Nellis AFB.

About 1,500 photos were taken, so I daresay that some of them will be seen here. You can see photos from MAFEX back in May here: (and it was pretty much the same as yesterday).

(Photos will be posted soon)

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