Whenever the 480th TFS “Warhawks” were deployed to Zaragoza AB, Spain, the goal was always to maximize the number of training sorties that we could fly on any given day – either Bardenas Range sorties or air-to-air sorties. The weather was great in Spain and we needed to fill our training “squares” for the next six months in as little as a month while deployed; as the weather and opportunities for training were always limited when we were back “home” in Germany. So the schedule was always built to have the first launch exactly at “official sunrise” according to the control tower’s clock when they opened the runway. In order to do that, the first four ship was cleared onto the runway a minute or two before official sunrise, and the tower cleared them for take-off exactly at sunrise – with not a minute wasted.
So the pictures below are of F-4E/G “Warhawk” Phantoms (with a couple of F-111 Aardvarks thrown into the mix as well) on the runway at Zaragoza AB launching exactly at official sunrise, and then continuing operations through the morning. The last picture is of Zaragoza AB’s reliable lawnmowing service – a flock of sheep!