When photographed by yours truly at Taegu Air Base in 1990, these were Republic of South Korea Air Force (ROKAF) birds. Ah, but in the days of the Korean War, they belonged, respectively, to the USAF’s 311th Fighter Bomber Squadron and 16th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Of course, in 1990, these Sabres (52-4829 and 52-4526) were no longer front-line aircraft, but they were still lingering about the base. Camouflaged 526 was not going anywhere soon, but 829 was.
Story as follows: We USAF guys were tenants of Taegu. Both us and our ROKAF hosts flew variants of the F-4 Phantom and therefore shared certain facilities. One of them was the “trim pad” – the engine run-up area. We had an RF-4C that needed the use of said trim pad and, having been told it was in use by the ROK’s, I drove over to ascertain how long they would be. To my complete surprise, there sat this F-86, 829. As seen by 526, there were several rather sorry looking Sabres scattered about the base, but I had no idea they also had a flyable one. And flyable it was; the next day I saw it streaking over the base. I learned from a ROKAF friend that when their general needed to get his hours he didn’t do it in some new fancy jet like the F-4 or F-16. No, he strapped on the bird that he had cut his teeth on, the F-86 Sabre.