13 July, 2011

Profile 52 - "754" as flown by the SDANG

"Gawd what a miserable airplane!" he cried.  "Those brakes were so bad, they had boards of nail strips to stop the things!"

I'll leave his name out, but the quote above came from an FAA Controller buddy who, in the course of decades of experience, has an opinion on nearly every airplane that's taken to the sky since 1950.  F-100s were based at a field he Controlled during the mid-60s.  Clearly, he saw one-too-many F-100s roll off the runway and made his judgement.

Airplanes "do that" to people - they give rise to such emotion and logic, dichotomies often result.  "Best airplane the Air Force every had.  Worst piece of crap ever forced on our armed services."

"I love flying.  I hate flying."

Not having flown the F-100, nor having any reasonable prospect EVER TO fly the F-100, I'm left with my own dichotomy. And, I think the F-100 is simply awesome.  Not necessarily just because of the airplane itself but also because of what the airplane represents.

As a machine, it was the first American jet to fly supersonic in level flight.  It represents achievement.  As a warrior, it was the first American jet to fly combat in Vietnam.  It represents work.  As a tool, it served the armed Air Forces of many nations and obviously the highly, highly, highly respected South Dakota Air National Guard.  The F-100 represents success.

I looked forward to doing the F-100 because it posed a particular challenge.  See the exposed metal underneath the tail?  That's an area that became so hot, the camouflage paint burnt off, leaving distinct scorch marks of heat-distressed metal.  To me, this made The Hun* seem to say, "I'm here to get something done.  Get me ready and let's go!"

There's a purposefulness to the Super Sabre that is particularly appealing to me.  Grit.  Sweat.  Effort.  Risk.  Reward.

For the South Dakota Air National Guard, their reward was especially so - having "inherited" one of their F-100s from the famed USAF aerobatic team, "The Thunderbirds," the SDANG returned her to T-bird colors upon retirement in 1977.  Today, the South Dakota Hun resides at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB today.

Brakes?!  Who needs brakes when you're designed to GO!!

(Photo:  SDANG F-100D being escorted to Wright-Pat by next-gen T-38 Thunderbirds, circa 1977, courtesy South Dakota Air National Guard via Lt. Colonel Christopherson).