Fresno Yosemite International - popularly abbreviated by FYI instead of the FAA code FAT - serves the Central San Joaquin Valley. It is the only airport in the Valley to be served by major US airlines. Furthermore, it has a reasonably large General Aviation side, with about 200 aircraft based at 'FYI' varying from single piston engined aircraft to multi engined business jets.
On the military side, 'FYI' hosts F-15s of the California Air National Guards' 144th Fighter Wing and is also the base for US Army National Guards West Coast AVCRAD (Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot). Other activities at 'FYI' consist of aerial tankers housed at the U.S. Forest Service and California Department of Forestry Air Attack Bases, and Highway Patrol, County Sheriff and Fresno Police choppers. And be aware that standing close to the fence near the (semi-) governmental agencies will attract police.
You're looking for diverse action at an airfield? Then 'FYI' just might be your place to be!
AVCRAD is situated on the northern rim of the airfield. When driving clockwise around the airfield you will find fire fighters and choppers in the northeast corner, F-15 fighters in the southeast, the civil airport in the south, and the GA community in the southwestern corner.
The airport is located roughly in between the two cities of Fresno and Clovis. When on freeway S-168 take exits "East McKinley Avenue" or "East Shields Avenue", and turn East.
Around the Airport
Situated in the corner of East Dakote Avenue and East Airways Boulevard AVCRAD has a ramp that might have some interesting ArNG helicopters. From Spot 1 the ramp can be partially overseen, resulting in some rarer examples. Recent news says this facility may have closed down, although C-23s and helicopters were present this summer.
Further down the same road is the new cargo apron, which may contain some interesting airliners.
2East Perimeter Road
Close to the law enforcement choppers, from in between the hangars some decent shots of inmates can be taken. Take care, as this is close to law enforcement officers as well, and they may not all react the same positive manner...
Opposite to the 144th FW F-15s across the runway is the main gate of the California Fire Service and Air Attack Base (CDF/CAL FIRE). Some of the fire fighting aircraft are parked near this gate. From here, photography is OK in the afternoons, although a hangar is partially blocking the view. All California ANG F-15 serials can be read from here.
4North Clovis Avenue
After passing the junction with East McKinley Avenue, and immediately after crossing a creek and a railroad crossing you will find a small dirt track on your left hand side. Park here and you will be in perfect position for all traffic landing on Runway 29R. Traffic for the -smaller- runway 29L will unfortunately pass overhead. Moving up and down North Clovis Avenue will solve this, and taking a more southerly position may enable you to take nice shots of all traffic. This probably is the place you'll be spending most of the time, as the 29s are the preferred runways.
Just behind the main gate of the California Air National Guard, you can find a bunch of preserved aircraft. Photography is not possible because they are on the base itself, but reading off the serials should not be a problem.
Airside a couple of decent pics can be made, and you'll have a good view of the runways. Of course, here are the amenities and facilities you may want to use when either you drank or ate too much, or too little...
7East Shields Avenue
In the bend in the road of North Winery Road and East Shields Avenue you will be able to oversee almost all of the GA ramps. Although while passing the ramp on your way from point 5 or 6 you've seen most of it already. Further this point will leave you with some nice opportunities to shoot aircraft vacating the runways.
Spot 3, North Clovis Avenue, 5 April 2005, Ken Withers
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