Originally Posted by RhinoDrvr
The F/A-18A-G won't have ADS-B out for a while...so keep your eyes peeled when you're flying around low level routes / R-2508...
Funny you mention that. On Thursday Feb 25, 2016, flying my previous RV-8, I flew around the Olympic Peninsula counterclockwise, with a stop at Hoquiam to walk the shorebird trail and have a snack. After turning Cape Flattery and the lighthouse on Tatoosh Island at the Northwestern most point of Washington State, I turned South toward Hoquiam and climbed to 9500 ft, and entered the Olympic B MOA. Up until that time, in all the times I’ve flown through the Olympic MOAs, I can't remember ever seeing any Military aircraft.
As I approached the South end of Lake Ozette I noticed an EA-18G Growler down low (around 3,000 ft) heading West toward the Pacific Ocean. I watched as it flew a few miles over the ocean and then did a 180 degree turn and headed back toward the East behind and way below me. He was still low so I quit watching him. So there I was enjoying the tunes on my iPod, the sunshine and smooth air at 9500 ft, with the engine purring away contentedly, and in my peripheral vision I noticed some movement on my left. I looked to the left and at about my 7 o’clock position, was an EA-18G Growler slowly coming up on my wing, a couple of wingspans away! Initially I was slightly startled, then I thought this was pretty cool, but also thought what have I done wrong (as any good, guilt-ridden Catholic US citizen would these days!).
He stayed on my wing for only a couple of seconds, rocked his wings, I rocked mine, and he slowly pulled ahead, descended slightly, and then rolled into a 60 degree bank to the right, across my flight path and slightly lower than me. Got a good view of his planform during his turn. I was concerned about his wake, but felt just a slight bobble. I did get on Guard frequency (121.5 MHz) as he was pulling away and tried to contact him a couple of times, but there was no response. He departed to the West and that was the last I saw of him. I didn’t have time to get my camera out. There were no TFRs in the area that I could have busted. I think he saw me earlier, or ATC pointed me out as traffic, and he just decided to see who was at 9500’ flying fast (relatively speaking, of course!). He probably just wanted to see closeup that beautiful RV-8. And once he saw the patriotic Red/White/Blue with Stars paint job, he knew I couldn't be up to anything nefarious! ;-)
Practice Military intercepts of Civilian aircraft used to be routine, usually with the Civilian aircraft not even aware of the intercept, until an F-16 collided with a Civilian airplane in IMC conditions in the 1980s or 1990s. After that accident, I seem to recall that practice Military intercepts of Civilian aircraft were no longer allowed (but maybe a Civilian aircraft in an MOA obviates that). I didn’t mind the Growler forming up on me, but I would have liked to talk to him, and had a minute to get my camera out!
BTW, no Black SUV’s with nervous people with M-16s met me at Hoquiam or Arlington when I landed at each airport, so I’m sending this note from my home and not Gitmo!
Now, with the much larger number of Growlers being based at Whidbey NAS, the Olympic MOA's will get a lot more use going forward.