It’s time to pay homage to some of Lockheed’s work, and a couple other interesting birds. The Museum of Aviation near Warner Robins Air Force Base in Georgia is home to all of these planes. I thought I’d snap a few extra photos during my last visit. I’m quite partial to Lockheed’s work, being descended form a Skunk Works engineer and Lockheed advisory board member. Growing up near the Marietta, Georgia plant, I became accustom to seeing new C-130 and F-22 aircraft rolling off the assembly line almost daily, flying overhead to their first destination.
Photo One: This Lockheed JetStar VC-140B used as VIP transport for the Air Force. It even carried presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter, using call sign Air Force One when aboard. The prototype JetStar was used as Kelly Johnson’s personal transport aircraft. Another JetStar was owned by Elvis. When my grandfather worked for the Lockheed Skunk Works, he told tales of flying aboard JetStar with a suitcase handcuffed to his wrist, en route to speak with CIA officials. Yes, this actually happened. My grandfather was “that guy”.
Photo Two: This Lockheed F-80B was derived the P-80, the first operational American jet fighter. Armed with six .50 machine guns, the light jet was said to slow down abruptly when the pilot squeezed off a burst.
Photo Three: This Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar C-60A was the paratroop version. The Lodestar was a stretched Lockheed Vega to add more cargo space. Some of the birds were modified Vegas, some were built from the ground up.
Photo Four: The Lockheed T-33 was a trainer, specifically to transition prop plane pilots into jet pilots. This is essentially a trainer version of the P-80.
Photo Five: Moving away from Lockheed for a moment, we have the Convair F-102A Delta Dagger (foreground) and F-106A Delta Dart (background). The F-102 was the first American operational super sonic fighter. The F-106, originally designated the F-102B, was heavily modified F-102, giving it better speed and altitude performance. Both of these aircraft feature a “vision splitter” windscreen, like the Lockheed Blackbird family of aircraft.
Photo Six & Seven: Lastly, we have the SR-71A Blackbird, #17958. What more could I say about this bird that hasn’t already been said? Probably a lot. The final photo shows fuel tank 6, extending past the elevons. An easy way to tell the SR-71 and A-12 apart is, the A-12 aft-most fuel tank does not protrude past the elevons. This final photo was photographed with my iPhone. SR-71 #17958 was covered in two previous posts. (Click here to read about her world record setting flights.) (Click here for additional information about #17958)
On February 2, 1970, USAF Maj, Gary Foust lost control of his F-106 Delta Dart while on a practice intercept mission. Closing in on his opponent at 40,000 feet, Foust’s aircraft entered a flat spin, leading to the pilot ejecting at 8,000 feet.
Upon the pilot ejecting, the F-106 automatically recovered from the spin, due to the change in balance, and landed itself, gear up, in a wheat field near Big Sandy, Montana. It skidded to a stop, with the engine running at idle until it ran out of fuel. The damage done to the aircraft was so minimal that it was soon returned to service.
The aircraft, now retired, is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
Developed as an evolution of the F-102 Delta Dagger, the aircraft was originally designated F-102B. Due to the drastic improvements, the aircraft was designated F-106A/B in 1956, also flying for the first time that year. Entering service in 1959, the F-106 was primarily used for all-weather, missile-armed interception in protection of the continental United States. The aircraft carried up to four AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missiles and either one AIM-26A Falcon (nuclear) missile or one AIR-2 Genie nuclear rocket.
Briefly deployed to South Korea and Germany, the F-106 was considered for service in Vietnam, but was never deployed. The F-106 began to be replaced by the F-15 Eagle in the early 1980’s, with many aircraft moving to Air National Guard units, where it served until 1988. Many retired F-106s were converted into drones, starting in 1986. Several aircraft were also used by NASA until 1998.
Feb. 2, 1970, pilot USAF Gary Foust’s F-106 entered an uncontrolled spin and, unable to regain control, he was forced to eject. Much to his surprise following his exist, the plane righted itself, and gently landed in a snowy field, unpiloted. Aside from minor damage due to the landing gear being up, it was in fine condition, and the engine continued to run until it ran out of fuel. After some quick repairs, it reentered service.
A F-106 Delta Dart from the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing escorts a Russian Tupolev Tu-95 “Bear” off the coast of the United States during an intercept mission in this undated photo. The 177th Fighter Wing routinely scrambled to escort aircraft in the 1980’s.
Delta Dart firing Genie unguided air-to-air rocket. In the event of war with the Soviet Union, the Genie was to be nuclear-tipped and would be used to blow apart entire incoming Soviet bomber formations.