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16-2782 — - The deadliest unarmed aircraft in the world climbs out of DSM's Runway 13 doing some practice touch and goes and pattern work. This beauty put on quite a show for us spotter at DSM. It was most impressive! The aircraft left Fort Worth Alliance Airport earlier in the morning, did some practice around the Louisville area, came to Des Moines to do practices here, and then flew to Offet AFB for the night. Photo taken Tuesday, January 5, 2020 at 4:00 PM with Nikon D3200 at 86mm.
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16-2782 —

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The deadliest unarmed aircraft in the world climbs out of DSM's Runway 13 doing some practice touch and goes and pattern work. This beauty put on quite a show for us spotter at DSM. It was most impressive! The aircraft left Fort Worth Alliance Airport earlier in the morning, did some practice around the Louisville area, came to Des Moines to do practices here, and then flew to Offet AFB for the night. Photo taken Tuesday, January 5, 2020 at 4:00 PM with Nikon D3200 at 86mm.

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Dwight HartjePhoto Uploader
The United States Navy E6 is one of the two "Doomsday" type aircraft designed for the purpose of being able to counteract any nuclear attack on the United States. This aircraft was built to be a communications aircraft to relay VLF messages to nuclear submarines and if the worst case happened to send launch instructions themselves. This aircraft is the upgraded E6B with newer 737NG cockpit, extended range, and can now also be used for other communications missions as well. I hope and pray we never have to use this aircraft for her intended purpose, but having the debutant is an important part of our national defense.
Keith Brown
Beautiful airplane. I had a lot of encounters both as a USAF tower controller in Sacramento and later as an en route controller at Houston Center. At KMCC they would arrive in the morning and always depart at "oh dark thirty." I would often catch both, working the day shift and then the subsequent midnight (graveyard) shift. KMCC was surrounded by residential areas so noise was always an issue and you'd think this behemoth would rattle everyone's windows during REM sleep but no, those giant high-bypass turbofans are amazingly quiet, just a dull roar. At the Center I worked oceanic airspace for a while and these guys would go out over the Gulf and let out the VLF antenna from the tail cone like a fishing reel, what we called "trailing wire operations", we had to protect quite a distance below the aircraft, 15,000 feet if I recall, but they were always in a warning area so it wasn't an issue.
Mike Taylor
Back in the '90s I got to work the TACAMO project when they were upgrading a lot of the subsystems for the E6B. The hardest part was getting all the added clearances and I already had a TS/SCI. Some interesting stories regarding the trailing wire antenna.
Just watched this beauty do 8 practice runs at GJT today. I live on the flight path. I didn't know exactly what she was and a quick search didn't help. Just now I check my email and there it is! Great info. Thanks all.
Jerry Madero
Finally a photo from Des Moines and a good one. I'm in Altoona and I live within a mile of the extended approach path of 23. Would appreciate knowing where you spot from. The old turnoff at McKinley where the F16's used to park has been closed since 9-11.
I was gonna say that looked like an updated version of Looking Glass, but saw the NAVY on the rear fuselage. Great shot.
Dave Sheehy
Nice shot Dwight! Thanks for sharing.
Dwight HartjePhoto Uploader
Thank you Keith, Mike, and Tom for sharing your experiences with this aircraft!
Jerry, I will be producing a video on places to spot at DSM on my YouTube channel, Citrus Aviation. It should be outing the next month, but short of it here is there are 4 major spotting locations, Cell Phone Parking lot (this image was taken there), Parking Garage, an Elliott Aviation hanger parking lot, and a hill by runway 13, which you need permission from airport ops to use.
Thank you, Dave!
The E6 does operate a similar mission to the Looking Glass but for Navy purposes.

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