From 1949-1962, the Skyblazers of US Air Forces Europe (USAFE) thrilled European audiences with feats of aerial precision and showmanship. Here they are in the early days atop one of their F-84 Thunderjets: team founder Major Harry Evans, pilots Lawrence “Dagwood” Damewood, and twin brothers Charles “Bill” & Cuthbert “Buck” Pattillo.
KC-135A 59-1504 “City of Tacoma” on the ramp at McChord AFB in 1961.
Another shot of “City of Tacoma”. Now 60 years old and still flying.
1504 flew with the 22nd Air Refueling Squadron, 1960-1962 – McChord’s brief time as host to tankers.
60-0357 started life as a C-135A but was quickly converted to a tanker configuration. Still flying today.
C-135A 60-0369 never underwent the tanker conversion. This, no doubt, is one reason it had a comparative short life: eventually used as a ground trainer, then scrapped.
C-135B 61-2264 was also not “tankerized” but was converted into an RC-135, “Cobra Ball”, assigned to Eielson AFB, AK.
2664 role as a “Cobra Ball” spy plane ended tragically on March 15, 1981, when it crashed on Shemya Island killing 6 of the crew. Stationed in Alaska at the time, I remember the tragic incident well.
61-2664, 665, 666, and 667 on the Renton ramp in the early 60’s. All were converted to some form of intelligence gathering configuration.
61-0278 was the 500th KC-135. Delivered in 1962, she was dubbed “Miss Ak-Sar-Ben” – “Nebraska” spelled (for whatever reason) backwards. She was converted to an EC-135 and ended her life in the bone yard.
Naturally, the true test of an aircraft’s load capability is the amount of beer it can get airborne. A rough count of the number of beer cases x the 24 cans (12 oz. each) they hold makes this load approximately 2,000 pounds. Easily enough done, but the trick is finding a pilot who won’t help himself to the cargo while en route. Wherever this aircraft is bound in Alaska, the people there will be happier for its arrival.
The aircraft, a Pilgrim 100-B (N709Y), belongs to Star Air Lines and is, believe it or not, still in existence today. Comfortably housed in the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, N709Y is still in flying condition. It has been a few years since it hauled a ton of beer, but it’s still a pretty good old aircraft.
Pioneer Alaska Bush Pilot John W. “Johnny” Moore poses with a ski-equipped Travel Air BW. With that open cockpit for an office, Moore’s furry ensemble will serve him well in the skies of Alaska.
It’s January 1970, and Pan Am’s factory-fresh first 747 roars past photographers at Paine Field as it begins its eastbound journey in preparation in for its inaugural service. Next stop: Dulles Airport where it will be christened by First Lady Pat Nixon.
It’s always fun to browse thrift stores for bargains; never know what you might find. The patches seen here illustrate that point: They were glued to a cheap imitation leather flight jacket that was priced $4.99. Alas, there was no name on the jacket – it no doubt belonged to a veteran who wore it to reunions and such. He would have flown the B-24’s of the 460th from their bases in Italy (the patches are Italian made). But the patches live on, and those mementos of a veteran’s service have been saved for all time.
It is a rainy day at McChord AFB, but such weather never deters the die-hard aircraft fans. B-47E 53-6219 – as with all Stratojets – was nearing the end of its days when this photo was taken in 1963, but it could still draw admirers. (Made a good umbrella too) This 9th Strategic Aerospace Wing aircraft was visiting from Mountain Home AFB, a place where rain is less a concern than dust and tumbleweeds.
When this photo was taken, McChord AFB was home to a rather large fleet of rather large aircraft: The C-124 Globemasters, many of which are seen in the background.