Landing Lights

Out for early morning motorcycle rides four and a half years ago, I happened to catch these photos from the west side of March Air Force Base with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01. That Lumix point-and-shoot was easy to carry in the pocket of my leather riding jacket, so I had it with me whenever I got on the bike. It was easy to “push” the sensor on it and get a bit of color saturation. March was downgraded to a Reserve Base years ago, which had a negative economic impact on the local economy.

On another morning, I was standing in the same spot where I took these photos, looking toward the eastern sky and wondering if the pre-dawn sky would develop into something worth shooting, when I suddenly felt something in the air. I then saw a hint of shadow on the darkness fifty feet above the ground, moving quickly toward the landing strip from the south. There was no sound. If a cricket could whisper, it would have drowned out any audible indication that something was there.

In the time it takes to read this sentence, an aircraft’s landing lights blinked on, the craft touched down and began rolling toward the hangers on the north end of the field, then the lights went out. I didn’t have time to take the camera out of my pocket and turn it on.

Though I’m no aircraft identification expert, it was definitely not a stealth bomber. It was nothing I’d ever seen. I might find out what it was twenty or thirty years from now, when the craft is declassified. The incident was over so fast that I doubted for a split second that it happened at all. But it did.