ur trip began with an arrival at Rainbow Canyon on Saturday. We didn’t get any passes through the canyon and no aircraft in the surrounding vicinity but we heard a bunch of chatter over the scanners. We heard some Edwards’ F-35s performing some ops flying under the callsign of Jester as well as some radio communication to Viper, an Edwards’ F-16. There were also a few familiar callsigns from the Nellis AFB either flying a Green Flag or Weapon School op talking about an APC on the range.
Sunday we expected to see pretty much nothing since there was no action through the canyon the previous day. We did end up seeing one of the General Electric 747 flying testbed aircraft at high altitude over the Panamint Valley. It was the new 747-400 they acquired flying under the callsign 747 Gulf Foxtrot. The original GE 747-100 was also up in the air but we only heard its callsign (747 Gulf Echo) over the scanner. We were surprised to see a Super Hornet appear and dive into the canyon especially since we didn’t pick up any radio call on the scanner. He turned wide out over the lookout parking lot and then dove very low into the canyon to the point where we lost him due to rocks obstructing our view. It was Vandy 11, the F/A-18E CAG (commander of the air group) bird for VX-9 Vampires. After the canyon, he turned north and climbed out of the airspace. We hoped he might pull another run from the canyon but we heard him call in over the radio for clearance to Moffett Field. Maybe he was headed up there to make preparations for the Super Bowl that was going to be held in Santa Clara a couple of weeks later or just flying to log in some hours. Needless to say we were stoked seeing the Vampires CAG bird on a Sunday; it was an excellent omen for the trip. On the way back to our hotel, we heard some radio chatter with Edwards Control about someone asking about the Sidewinder Route and an E-3 AWACS (airborne warning and control system), callsign Disco, cleared to start his descend down to Nellis.