NAF EL Centro - Naval Air Facility El Centro, Imperial County, California

This facility was commissioned on the 1st May 1946, as a Naval Air Station. (it has been a Marine Corps Air Station prior, as well). Through the years, Navy El Centro has had several names: Naval Air Facility, Naval Auxiliary Landing Field, Naval Air Station, and the National Parachute Test Range, which is located approx. six miles (10 km) northwest of El Centro, in Imperial County, California.

 

For the first 35 years, NAF EL Centro's mission was devoted to aeronautical escape system testing, evaluation and design. In November 1947, the Parachute Experimental Division from Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey moved to El Centro. In 1951, the Joint Parachute Facility was established and consisted of the Naval Parachute Unit and the U.S. Air Force's 6511th Test Group (Parachute). The Air Force remained part of El Centro’s test organization for the next 27 years.

 

Nowadays NAF El Centro is better known as the "winter home" of the famous US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, The Blue Angels, which historically kicks off the Angels' season with their first air show, traditionally held in March. Unfortunately "Fat Albert", the C-130 Hercules support aircraft of the Blue Angels, was unserviceable on the 11th March, during the "2017 Kick Off". Nevertheless a small but extremely well organized event, and always great to see "The Angels" performing.