NATO Tiger Meet 2016 - Spotter Day

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NOTE: To read this post in another language, use the translator located to the right of this page.

Ala 15 (15th Wing, SpAF) hosted NATO Tiger Meet at Zaragoza, from the 16th of May until the 27th of May of 2016.

As each year, a spotter day was celebrated during this event, plus a "doors open day" at Zaragoza airbase, where the public was allowed to enter and see some static aircraft and a flying display.

Below is the participant list, taken from the NATO Tigers website:

NTA Members - Flying Participants

Ala 15 (SpAF) - BA Zaragoza - EF-18+ Hornet (6x)

142 Esc (SpAF) - Albacete - EF2000 Typhoon (6x)

21° Gruppo (ItAF) - Grazzanise - AB-212ICO (2x)

31 smd (BAF) - Kleine Brogel- F-16A/B MLU Fighting Falcon (8x)

TaktLwG 74 (GAF) - Neuburg - EF2000 Typhoon (8x)

11F (FN) - BAN Landiviseau - Rafale M (6x)

ECE 01/30 (FAF) - BA 118 Mont-de-Marsan - Mirage 2000D (4x)

335 Mira (HAF) - Araxos - F-16C/D Block 52+ Fighting Falcon (4x)

313 sqn (RNlAF) - Vlb. Volkel - F-16A/B MLU Fighting Falcon (2x)

59/1 Sqn (HuAF) - Kecskemét - JAS-39C/D Gripen (5x)

338 Skv (RNoAF) - MAS Ørland - F-16A/B MLU Fighting Falcon (6x)

1 AEW&CS (NATO) - MOB Geilenkirchen - E-3A Sentry (2x)

6 ELT (PolAF) - Poznan-Krzesiny AB - F-16C/D Block 52 Fighting Falcon (6x)

211 TL (CzAF) - Cáslav AFB  - JAS-39C/D Gripen (4x)

221 LtBVr (CzAF) - Námest - Mi-24 Hind (2x)

221 LtBVr (CzAF) - Námest - Mi-17 Hip (1x)

Staffel 11 (ChAF) - Meiringen - F/A-18C/D Hornet (5x)

192 Filo (TuAF) Balikesir AB - F-16C/D Block 50 Fighting Falcon (5x)

230 Sqn (RAF) RAF Benson - Puma HC.2 (1x)

NTA Members - Observers

1 JTS (AAF) - Flh. Vogler - Only observers

NTA Members - Visitors

12° Gruppo (ItAF) - Gioia del Colle - EF2000 Typhoon (6x)

External Participants

GFD (CIVIL)  - Hohn - Learjet (1x)

4F (FN) - BAN Lann-Bihoué - E-2C  Hawkeye (1x)

3 RHC (ALAT) BA d'Étain-Rouvres - SA 342 M Gazelle (2x)

334 Sqn (RNlAF) vlb. Eindhoven - KDC-10 (1x)  Didn't show up for the spotter day.

This year I managed to attend to the Tiger Meet spotter day, as it was close enough for me to go.

I left Madrid on the 19th, and arrived at Zaragoza just in time to see all of the aircraft that had departed for the main mission land.

HunAF Gripen on approach to runway 30L.

One of the many aircraft wearing a special Tiger livery.

Spotter Day - 20th of May

Entering the airbase was easy, there were no queues at the entrance, and security let people enter as soon as they saw the accreditation card we had to print out. We were led to the parking area, which was located near the ramp, in a patch of land. 

An interesting fact: on the NATO Tigers website it said that security checks would be done, and that didn't happen. We were told to leave our bags on a corner and dogs checked them out.

When all was finished, everyone was direcred to the ramp area, where we had to stand behind a line painted on the floor. Everything was backlit, so taking photos was mostly impossible.

After a few hours we were guided to the runway. 
The light there was quite bad too, so the first takeoffs were, to say the least, difficult to photograph. After waiting for a bit more than an hour, the first aircraft came in to land, some did low passes while others just did a full stop landing.

Most spotters went closer to the taxiway where light was better.

Banking after a low pass.

The view from the area near the taxiway.
Two German Tornadoes landed and it was all over. Everyone was guided back to the ramp area to check out the stands and eat or drink something.

Meanwhile, two French Navy Rafales rehearsed for their display on the 21st.

The biggest surprise of the day; an A330 landing on the military runway.
Something got messed up somehow. According to the NATO Tigers website, the spotters day was supposed to end at approximately 18:30, but at the entrance we were told it would be ending at 14:30. 
Then, there was an announcement saying that we would be permitted to stay inside the airbase until 17:00, which was a relief for everyone.

This time we went near the taxiway, but with good light. In my opinion it would've been better to be able to go to the morning spot, near the runway, but that didn't happen.

To add to the fact that we were way too far from the aircraft there was heat haze, which ruined most of my photos.

The afternoon spot.

The best photo opportunity came when the aircraft participating on the main mission taxiied by. Light was pretty good and the jets taxiied quite close.

Taxiing in front of the spotters.
A Portuguese F-16 landed just after we were told to leave the airbase, and the Belgian Solo F-16 started the rehearsal for next day's "airshow".

All in all, it was very, very nice to be able to enter an airbase to take photos.

I hope you enjoyed this post about my experience during the NATO Tiger Meet spotter day.

You may find more photos from this event here.


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