A Look at Past Participants at Otis Air National Guard Base’s Air Shows

 

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This Massachusetts Air National Guard F-106A was converted into a QF-106A drone after the host 102nd Fighter Wing transitioned to the F-15 Eagle. This aircraft was was destroyed in August, 1996

Mention the name “Otis” to any middle-aged or older Cape Cod local, and they’ll most likely remember the Air Force and Massachusetts Air National Guard aircraft, or the various Coast Guard patrol planes and Search and Rescue helicopters that have flown from the two runways that made up the Otis Air Force Base or the Air National Guard Base. More recently, the airport was named the Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, and ultimately today’s Joint Base Cape Cod, after all Air Force and Air National Guard flying activity has ceased operations at the field.

The air base has some interesting history… it was built in the 1930s and opened for operations in 1938. It was named after a Boston-based flight surgeon and member of the local 101st Observation Squadron, Lt. Frank Otis, whose O-46A fatally crashed  during a cross country training flight in 1937. The first runway was part of the Massachusetts National Guard’s Camp Edwards; originally just the airport was named after Otis. Later, the entire air base area was renamed after Otis. During World War II, Camp Edwards played a significant role in Army troop training, but the U.S. Navy operated the airfield as a Naval Auxiliary Air Facility under the direction of nearby Naval Air Station Quonset Point.

F-86 Sabre restored at the old Otis ANGB

After World War II, the Cold War exploded, and the Air Force’s Air Defense Command took control of the air base and much of the surrounding area. The base had under it’s jurisdiction the Texas Towers radar arrays off the Massachusetts coastline, multiple air defense fighter squadrons (equipped with piston fighters, or later with these jets: F-86 Sabres, F-84 Thunderstreaks, F-100 Super Sabres, F-94 Starfighters, F-89 Scorpions, F-106 Delta Darts, and finally F-15 Eagles), and the 551st Airborne Early Warning Control Wing (operating the Lockheed Constellation-based EC-121 Warning Stars). At times, Alert tankers like the KC-97 and KC-135 were present too. Additionally, transports, trainers, and liaison aircraft frequently visited the “Cape” area.

F-106B Delta Dart of the 102nd Fighter Wing

In time, the Air Force closed up shop and the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 102nd  Fighter Wing took control of the air operations at the field. The ANG unit flew F-106 Delta Darts, and then F-15A Eagles (many early Eagles came directly from Soesterberg AFB in the Netherlands as 32nd Fighter Group upgraded to the -C version of the Eagle).  The Coast Guard operated HU-16 Albatross SAR amphibians and HH-3F Pelican helicopters from Otis, and later HU-25 Falcons replaced the piston-engined Albatrosses and the Sikorsky HH-60 Jayhawk came home to roost, replacing the Pelicans.

The 102nd Fighter Wing lost it’s flying mission in 2008, and the Coast Guard took over the air  field’s operation. Today, what’s known as Joint Base Cape Cod is shared by the Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and the Massachusetts Army National Guard. An Air Force long range radar facility and an Air National Guard Intelligence Wing are non-flying tenants as well.

The host unit’s F-15A in 102nd FW Commander’s markings (serial # 77-0102)

“Back in the day”, Otis hosted some great air shows, with Coast Guard and local New England flying mixed with active military jet teams and civilian aerobatic and warbird routines. The 102nd FW hosted many Air National Guard aircraft for static and flying displays, and active military aircraft were abundant too.

P-51 Mustang “Big Beautiful Doll” at Otis; after this photo was taken, the plane was sold and operated in Europe, crashing in 2011 after a non-fatal mid-air collision during an air show

Here is a look at a few of the participants… as you can tell, weather conditions could be foggy with low overcast or bright sunlight. Cape Cod is on the Atlantic Ocean, and many times morning overcast burned off and produced some nice skies for an air show, but there were other times that this wasn’t so!

VMAQ-2 EA-6B Prowler

A Fighting Jayhawk blasts off from Otis…  Kansas ANG’s B-1B Lancer begins its demo flight.

 

A T-38A Talon based at Moody AFB in Georgia.

Based at Barnes Municipal Airport in Westfield Massachusetts, this 104th Fighter Wing A-10A would later be replaced by the 102nd FW’s F-15s in a BRAC-associated move.

“CAPE88” was the call sign of the 102nd FW’s C-12F

Just a “quick” flight from NAS Oceana, this VF-32 F-14B Tomcat is a big jet, but dwarfed by the C-5 Galaxy behind it.

Coast Guard HH-3F Pelican was a familiar sight around Cape Cod, with a longer endurance than many helicopters of the time.

One of the 102nd FW’s T-33A trainers – which also became a target aircraft for Air Defense Command training exercises

Navy UH-46D of HC-8 Dragon Whales was used for resupply and special missions

 

Beech C-12J was based at Otis ANGB and operated by the 102nd FW; it was used for transport for the State’s National Guard units

Selfridge, Michigan based Michigan ANG F-4D Phantom

A McGuire AFB – based KC-10A Extender in the old MAC color scheme

A low-viz color scheme for a Michigan ANG F-4D Phantom

Lockheed C-141B Starlifter in old-style Military Airlift Command colors

South Dakota Air National Guard Vought A-7D Corsair II

An Oklahoma-based Northrop T-38A in an all-white color scheme, that would be changed within a decade to a more camoflaged look.

This two-seat F-106B was used for flight training for the 102nd FW.

An Ohio Air National Guard KC-135E Stratotanker.

A Coast Guard flypast… featuring a HU-25A Falcon leading a HH-3P Pelican

VF-143 Pukin Dogs F-14A parked before the flight demonstration on an overcast Cape Cod day.

A pair of F-106 Delta Darts of the 102nd FW taxi out to depart during an air show

CAG bird of the VF-143 Pukin Dogs parked close to the crowd during an air show weekend at Otis

A Maineiacs KC-135E tanker, based in Bangor, Maine, arrives on a clear, blue – skied Friday afternoon for a weekend air show.

Based at nearby NAS South Weymouth, this VP-92 “Minutemen” P-3 Orion “shows the flag” during their air show arrival

The odd – looking appearance of the F-117A Nighthawk really ramped up the excitement for an Otis air show!

F-117A on the deck at Otis ANGB

This AT-38B offered advanced training for pilots that would go into tactical and strategic fighters and bombers in the Air Force

A look to the future… this 33rd FW F-15C was the flight demo pilot’s mount during an Otis air show (where the host 102nd FW flew F-106s), today, the 102nd FW has merged with the 104th FW and flies the F-15C

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