Open house, Langley AFB, 1962

Webp.net-resizeimage (1)Naturally, one sees this photo and says “F-4 Phantom.” However, the picture is early enough to where the sign in front of the aircraft says otherwise: “F-110A Phantom”. That is a bit of a misnomer. While the Air Force did designate their version of the Navy’s F4H Phantom as the F-110, they chose the name “Spectre” instead. Carrying the Navy bureau number of [1]49406, this aircraft’s USAF serial number was 62-12169.                                     

The F-105 alongside (59-1755) is from Seymour Johnson AFB’s 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron. This aircraft was shot down while engaged in a dogfight with a MiG 17 on July 19, 1966. The pilot, Stephen W. Diamond, was seen to eject, but was never found.


Webp.net-resizeimageF-104 Starfighter (56-0899) of the 479th TFW, George AFB. The F-106 alongside (56-0462), is from Langley’s 48th FIS. This aircraft suffered engine failure while on a high altitude (70,000 feet) intercept mission on June 6, 1975. The pilot, Captain Stephen Damer, made aviation history when he safely ejected at great altitude and descended some 12 miles or so to the Gulf of Mexico.


 

Mixed bag of B-29 Superforts

Starfighters of the 83rd FIS, 1959

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Despite its sleekness and speed, the F-104 was not well-suited to the needs of the USAF. Lacking the range and weaponry of the other interceptors of the day, the 104 never formed the backbone for America’s air defense. Though it served the Air Force for about twenty years, it typically never served in one interceptor squadron for long. Hamilton AFB’s 83rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron as seen here is typical: they flew the F-104 from 1958-60. On average, a USAF Starfighter squadron operated the type for only four years. This is in sharp contrast to the service the F-104 provided to air forces abroad. This was especially so in the skies of Europe where it was flown by a host of nations and was a familiar sight for decades.

Aircraft seen here are 56-0788 and 56-0819. In keeping with the Starfighter serving abroad theme, 788 was soon transferred to the Republic of China Air Force.

The Boeing 247-Y

 

A one of a kind aircraft if there ever was one. When this Boeing 247 began life with United Airlines, I doubt many believed it would end up being converted into a warplane but that is exactly what Boeing itself did. NC 13366 earned money for United until they retired the 247. Boeing then reacquired the aircraft in order to fulfill a rather unusual request to turn it into a militarized airliner for China. This Boeing obviously did.

Remembering Pearl Harbor

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It is late November, 1941, and the men of Hickam Field’s 50th Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a photo to send home for Christmas.

These men could not possibly imagine that even as they smiled at the camera, plans were already underway for their demise. Nor could they imagine that some of them have less than two weeks to live. For those who do survive, it will be an event that will mark them for the rest of their lives.

One man who lived through the attack was PFC William P. Stroud Jr. (4th row, 4th from right in the group photo). A flight engineer in the 50th Recon Sq., Stroud was in the barracks when the attack began. (That barracks, just across the street from the flightline and hangars, bears to this day the scars of the attack.) Despite the madness of that morning, William Stroud kept his cool. Knowing where he was needed most, he raced across the street to the flaming flightline to lend assistance. The squadron’s aircraft were already destroyed, so he grabbed a rifle to get in the fight. And a fighter he was. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Stroud won his pilot’s wings, flew B-24s, and in his numerous combat missions earned the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. 

Stroud, soon to be tested in battle, was identified in the group photo by his granddaughter, and it is a pleasure to single out and salute such a courageous young man.


It is well that we remember both those who lived and those who lost their lives that fateful morning. As the original owner of this photograph indicates with his annotations, some would not survive December 7th, but they were never forgotten by those who did. 

~”They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.” ~