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Random Warbird Photos #8



F-100F at Barnes Municipal Airport. 

Here’s our eighth Random warbird photo scrapbook, enjoy!!

Interstate L-6, possibly at Sacramento, California.

Collings Foundation F4U-5N at Westfield, Massachusetts.

YAK-52 leading a trio of CJ-6s at Portsmouth New Hampshire.

North American F-86/Canadair Sabres at an Aviation Nation show, Nellis AFB, Las Vegas Nevada.

Blue Angels alumni… a Grumman Bearcat from the past, passing behind the current F/A-18C Hornets at NAS Pensacola, Florida.

DHC-1 Chipmunk at Sun N Fun, Lakeland, Florida.

B-25 Mitchell at Lakeland, Florida.

MiG-21 at Lakeland, Florida.

CJ-6s at Lakeland, Florida.

Beech C-45 at Lakeland, Florida.

Collings Foundation B-24J Liberator at Manchester, New Hampshire.

TBM Avenger and PT-17 at NAS Jacksonvolle, Florida.

Commemorative Air Force B-29 at an unknown location.

Royal Australian Air Force RF-111C at Avalon, Australia.

F-14A at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

L-29 Delfin at Reno – Stead airport, Nevada.

HA-1112 Buchon at Titusville, Florida.

Collings Foundation B-24J Liberator at Nashua, New Hampshire.

Northrop C-125 Raider at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton Ohio.

C-1A Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) at NAS Pensacola, Florida.

Douglas F3D/F-10 Skynight at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

Eastern Aircraft/General Motors FM-2 Wildcat at an unknown airport.

Hawker F.58 Hunter Papyrus at RAF Cottesmore, U.K.


Our A-4 Skyhawk Scrapbook



The Douglas/McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a lightweight, single engine, single pilot combat jet which performed its first flight on June 22, 1954. Intended as an aircraft carrier-based attack jet, it was built ruggedly to handle that punishing environment. Today, sixty-six years later, the design continues to soldier on in both the Argentinian Air Force and the Brazilian Navy as frontline assets. Others are found in civilian hands as aggressor aircraft or as warbirds. Some 2,960 airframes were built in various models, the last was produced in 1979.

Operators of the Skyhawk in relatively large numbers included the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, and the countries of Argentina, Malaysia, Singapore, Israel, Kuwait, and Brazil. Australia and New Zealand operated a handful of Skyhawks too, the former country selling the remainder of their naval fleet to New Zealand to supplement that country’s original fourteen jets.

Subsonic at top speed, the nimble fighter carried a heavy payload for its size. It was a tough customer as far as battle damage, and was inexpensive to operate when compared to its contemporaries such as the F-4 Phantom II, A-7 Corsair II and the AV-8A Harrier. The type was even cleared to employ atomic weapons via a loft-bombing profile.

It was somewhat successful in its secondary role as an air to air fighter, with several air to air victories credited to their pilots, but was equally a victim during fights, especially with MiG-17s. The U.S. Navy and Marine corps lost more than 300 airframes during the Vietnam War, mainly to anti-aircraft gunnery and missiles, but a few to the aforementioned aerial combats too.

The U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels, used A-4F Skyhawks for a number of years, and their routine was aided by the size and nimbleness of the Skyhawk.

Several twin-seat training versions of the Skyhawk were built; as well as a dedicated Forward Air Control variant. Engine thrust capabilities increased in later upgraded models, as did avionics abilities.

The two largest users of the aircraft flew them into the 21st Century… the U.S. Navy retired their last operational A-4s in 2003, and Israel much later, in 2015. As the A-4 was withdrawn from frontline military service, more pristine airframes were sold to be operated as civilian-owned aggressor aircraft against current military aviators. Some of these operators include Tracor Flight Systems, Top Aces, Advanced Training Systems International (ATSI), and Draken International.

Here’s a look at many of these different models and operators, as well as an additional photo scrapbook at the end:















The McCoy AFB B-52 Memorial in Orlando, Florida

Ask yourself, how many times have you been through Orlando International Airport (KMCO)?

Now, how many of you have seen or visited the B-52 Memorial Park?

Next time you are heading into or out of Orlando International Airport, set 20 minutes aside to visit a unique and free attraction.

Tucked away off Bear Road and located between the end of runway 18L and the Beachline Express is a little hidden gem. Within this small park, camouflaged against the lush grass and palm trees sits a large attraction, B-52D Stratofortress 56-0687.

Established by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) on April 17, 1985, the park is dedicated to the members of the community and those who served with the Strategic Air Command (SAC) at McCoy AFB between 1957 and 1974.

The B-52D had a crew of five, including a tail gunner who was armed with four .50 caliber machine guns.

The B-52D is known as a ‘Tall Tail’ model. The B-52D was originally designed for high altitude bombing and thus the ‘Tall Tail’ was preferred for this flight profile. With conventional low level missions over Vietnam, it was found that the ‘Tall Tail’ produced too much flutter at lower altitudes and was redesigned to a smaller tail on the B-52G.

When the B-52D was assigned to service in the Vietnam war, it received what is known as ‘Big Belly’ modifications. The B-52D’s internal bomb capacity was increased from just 27 weapons to a maximum of 84 500-lb Mk 82 or 42 750 lb M117 conventional bombs. The Big Belly modifications were accomplished through the rearrangement of internal equipment. Additionally, the B-52D could carry another 24 bombs of either type on modified underwing bomb racks. These modifications brought the maximum payload to 60,000 pounds of bombs or about 22,000 pounds more than the capacity of the B-52F.

The B-52D also received what is known as the ‘Rivet Rambler’ modification. These modifications added the Phase V ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) systems which involved the fitting of one AN/ALR-18 automated set-on receiving set, one AN/ALR-20 panoramic receiver set, one AN/APR-25 radar homing and warning system, four AN/ALT-6B or AN/ALT-22 continuous wave jamming transmitters, two AN/ALT-16 barrage-jamming systems, two AN/ALT-32H and one AN/ALT-32L high- and low-band jamming sets, six AN/ALE-20 flare dispensers and eight AN/ALE-24 chaff dispensers.

Additionally, aircraft assigned to duty over Vietnam were painted with gloss black paint to the undersides, lower fuselage and both sides of the vertical fin to defeat searchlights. The remainder of the aircraft was covered in a camouflage pattern of tan and two tones of green with the aircraft series number painted in red.

Because of these upgrades and its long range capabilities, the D model was used more extensively in Vietnam than any other B-52 model.

This particular aircraft served with the 306th Bomb Group at McCoy Air Force Base in Orlando Florida until being transferred to the 7th Bomb Group at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth Texas. Orlando International Airport now sits upon the site of the former McCoy Air Force Base and its ICAO code of KMCO is a nod to McCoy AFB. B-52D 56-0687 was flown on its fini-flight to KMCO on February 20, 1984 and retired to the park.

Two “Fini Flights” at Once!

All photos provided by and taken by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sean Hetz and Master Sergeant Joseph A. Vigil.

As 860036 was prepared for the boneyard, it’s flying boom was removed while still at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. The all-volunteer crew was piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Mike Pillion who was making his Fini Flight and retiring from the U.S. Air Force. LTC Pillion granted us an exclusive interview about his and 860036’s Fini Flights.

I understand you were initially a helicopter pilot and was wondering which airframe you piloted?

My first assignment was with the rescue unit at Patrick AFB, FL flying the HH-3E. Our mission was to provide security within the Eastern Test Range during missile launches plus resupply downrange radar tracking stations in the Bahamas. After the Space Shuttle “Challenger” explosion in 1986 our mission evolved to include rescue and recovery for all shuttle launches.

Since becoming a KC-10 pilot in 1989, you had the opportunity to serve in both the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and the Air Mobility Command (AMC). In what ways have you seen the capabilities of the KC-10 expand during its service?

There have been some significant changes to employing the KC-10, more as a result of world events then changing from SAC to AMC. Since Operation DESERT STORM, KC-10s have deployed to support air refueling requirements in Europe, the Pacific and Southwest Asia. Wherever it was needed, the KC-10 performed brilliantly and demonstrated how vital air refueling is to ensure our national objectives.

The rumors have been swirling for about ten years now that the KC-10 would be retiring. However, something always seemed to save the KC-10 from the budget axe. Do you believe the KC-10 has reached the end of its service life?

Absolutely not. The KC-10 has undergone many upgrades beginning with the FMS-800, then the CNS/ATM modification, and most recently the entire fleet completed Mode 5 upgrade. With additional funding, the KC-10 could continue to fly for 20 more years. No tanker has a greater fuel offload capability so AMC should focus solely on the KC-10’s air refueling mission. There are plenty of other aircraft that can move cargo so utilizing the KC-10 for long haul air refueling would be its ideal mission in the future.

In your career did you have a favorite aircraft that you looked forward to refueling?

I think refueling the B-2 was my favorite. During my deployment to Anderson AFB, we supported air refueling for B-2’s temporarily stationed there. One night, a B-2 departed Guam for Whiteman AFB and we provided their first refueling so they could make it back home nonstop. Their flight covered over 6000 miles that night. Since then, every time that I’ve refueled a B-2, I can’t help but wonder where in the world their mission will take them.

Do you believe the KC-10 retirement will be short-lived and we will see them make their way to civilian cargo, military contractor or fire service duty?

I don’t understand why the Air Force would continue to retire KC-10s while KC-46 deliveries are delayed. I’m hopeful that Congress will recognize that funding the KC-10 for many years is absolutely necessary, in part, because of these delays. Back in February, General Miller spoke about the feasibility study of contracting with civilian air refueling operators and how that could relieve stress on the tanker force. Yet, if more jets are retired, I would imagine that a civilian operator like Omega could purchase boom and drogue capable KC-10s and put them to immediate use.

Do you know how 860036 was selected to be the first KC-10 to be retired?

I am not 100 percent sure why it was selected.

When you took the controls of 860036 for the final time, did you think more about the aircraft taking its last flight or of your own last flight at the controls?

I honestly was thinking about 86-0036 being on its final flight. The jet will most likely be cannibalized as soon as possible since many KC-10 parts are not readily available. While I hope to continue flying in the civilian world, I’ll always feel privileged to fly a proud workhorse like 86-0036 into retirement on my final military flight.

I would like to thank Lieutenant Colonel Mike Pillion for granting me this exclusive interview and sharing an insider’s view into the KC-10. I wish him a wonderful and rewarding retirement and future.

“The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.”