Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday - Aviation Style

Let me just put this on the record and say I do not shop on black Friday.  I'm not sure why anyone would want to deal with that madness.

With the above statement in mind, Mary and I agreed to meet up with my brother Joe and his wife Janice,so the ladies could shop.  Joe and I planned for a visit to the Dover Air Force Base, Air Mobility Command Museum. We discussed bringing my golf clubs depending on the temperature for the day. Golf clubs? Yes, those sticks I cant seem to master yet refuse to give up on.  I haven't swung a club since the summer before my foot surgery, July of 2016.

I awoke this morning at my typical work day time of 5am.  Ziva and I headed out to the kitchen so she could eat and be let out. When we went out back the air temps were cold, I could see my breath.  Ziva hesitated going out the back door, giving me that blank stare, as if to say I'm not going out there. Yes you are, get moving, and down the stairs she went.  It was the quickest potty break in weeks. Mary soon followed to take care of the cats, then we each got ready to head to the agreed rally point in Dover, minus my clubs. 

It's an easy ride north with minimum traffic as I make it to Pier 1 in one hour and twenty minutes.  We threw my brother and his bride for a loop deciding to take Mary's C240 instead of my ML320 SUV.  The car needed exercise since it sits most of the time in the garage and only sees minimum use maybe once or twice a month. It's a 2003 Benz with 77,000 miles.

We swapped vehicles, Mary climbed in with Janice and Joe climbed in the car.  The ladies were off to shop and the men decided on breakfast first, we had our priorities squared away. Bob Evans was standing room only but the line moved quickly. We were soon seated and enjoyed eggs homefries and toast, each with a side of bacon. I was now fueled and ready to check out the museum. It's a short drive to the south side of the base and the main gate is easy to find.

I took a few pictures but thought the museum photos looked so much better so I added them along with the description for each display. The small shots of the description boards at each aircraft would be too hard to read. 


  • Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas
  • First Flight: 1968
  • Retired: September 2005

First up on our tour is the McDonnell Douglas VC-9C.  VC-9C, serial number 73-1682, transported America’s top leadership from 1975 until 2011. Much of that time it served as Air Force Two for Vice Presidents Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Al Gore and Dick Cheney.

It also served several of America’s First Ladies—Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary R. Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama.

When this aircraft was needed to transport presidents into smaller airports—Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—it served as Air Force One.

It also transported visiting world leaders such as Queen Elizabeth II and the Chief of Staff of the People’s Republic of China.

This VC-9C has extended range fuel tanks and was also the first to have a special communications suite installed for the vice president. From 1975 until 2006 it was assigned to the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews AFB, Maryland. From 2005 until 2011 it was assigned to the 932nd Airlift Wing at Scott AFB, Illinois. Although 37 years old when retired, it only had a total of 16,300 flying hours, not much by airlift standards.


  • Manufacturer: Lockheed
  • First Flight: 17 Dec 1963

Serial number 61-2775 was the very first of 284 C-141A Starlifters ever built and had its maiden flight on 17 December 1963, the 60th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight.
This C-141A Starlifter spent its entire career as a test aircraft in numerous programs. It is one of only two remaining “A” models and is the only known four engine jet used to tow a glider. The last program this A model carried out was to test a new tension rope from NASA while towing a QF-106 in air.
Introduced to replace slower piston-engined cargo planes such as the C-124 Globemaster II, the C-141 was designed to requirements set in 1960 and first flew in 1963. Production deliveries of an eventual 285 planes began in 1965: 284 for the Air Force, and one for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for use as an airborne observatory.

The C-141 Starlifter was the workhorse of the Air Mobility Command from the 1970s into the early 2000s. The Starlifter fulfilled the vast spectrum of airlift requirements through its ability to airlift combat forces over long distances, delivering those forces and their equipment either by air, land or airdrop, resupply forces and transport the sick and wounded from the hostile area to advanced medical facilities.

  • Manufacturer: Lockheed
  • First Flight: 17 December 1963
  • Retired: 6 May 2006
The C-141B Starlifter, 64-0626, was the very last C-141 stationed here at Dover AFB, retiring in February 1996.

The C-141 Starlifter was the workhorse of the Air Mobility Command from the 1970s into the early 2000s. The Starlifter fulfilled the vast spectrum of airlift requirements through its ability to airlift combat forces over long distances, delivering those forces and their equipment either by air, land or airdrop, resupply forces and transport the sick and wounded from the hostile area to advanced medical facilities.

Introduced to replace slower piston-engined cargo planes such as the C-124 Globemaster II, the C-141 was designed to requirements set in 1960 and first flew in 1963. Production deliveries of an eventual 285 planes began in 1965: 284 for the Air Force, and one for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for use as an airborne observatory.

The C-141 proved to “bulk out” before it “massed out”, meaning that it often had additional lift capacity that went wasted because the cargo hold was too full. To correct the perceived deficiencies of the original model and utilize the C-141 to the fullest of its capabilities, the entire fleet of 270 in-service C-141As were stretched, adding needed payload volume. These modified aircraft were designated C-141B. Additional fuselage “plug” sections were added before and after the wings, lengthening the fuselage by 23 ft 4 in (7.11 m) and allowing the carriage of 103 litters for wounded, 13 standard pallets, 205 troops, 168 paratroopers, or an equivalent increase in other loads. Also added at this time was a boom receptacle for inflight refueling. The conversion program took place between 1977 and 1982, with first delivery taking place in December 1979. It was estimated that this stretching program was the equivalent of buying 90 new aircraft, in terms of increased capacity.

The aircraft remained in service for almost 40 years until the USAF withdrew the C-141 from service on 5 May 2006, replacing the aircraft with the C-17 Globemaster III.

  • Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin
  • First Flight: 23 August 1954
  • Retired: Still in service

C-130E Hercules Serial Number: 69-6580 is a four-engine, turboprop powered, tactical airlift aircraft capable of operating from austere airfields. Over 40 foreign countries operate C-130s. The US Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines and Air National Guard operate C-130s. The Delaware Air Guard in Wilmington operates a fleet of C-130H models.
2004 marked the 50th anniversary of the first flight of a C-130 and new models are rolling off the assembly lines today. C-130s have been flown on every continent, landed and taken off from an aircraft carrier, operated with skis, and have been used to haul every conceivable type of cargo.

The C-130 on display was retired from active duty on 2 February 2004 and flew its final flight to the Air Mobility Command Museum.

  • Manufacturer: Cessna
  • First Flight: 3 January 1953
U-3A 'Blue Canoe' Serial Number: 8212

Popularly known in the U.S. Air Force as the Blue Canoe, the U-3 is the military version of the Cessna 310 twin-engine transport. The prototype made its first flight on Jan. 3, 1953, and production for the civilian market began in 1954.

In 1957 the USAF selected the aircraft for service as a light administrative liaison, cargo and utility transport. The Air Force eventually bought 160 off-the-shelf under the original designation L-27A, later changed to U-3A. Thirty-five more were delivered in 1960-1961 as U-3Bs — all weather versions with more powerful engines, additional cabin windows, a longer nose and a swept vertical fin.

  • Manufacturer: Beechcraft Corporation
  • First Flight: 15 January 1937
  • Retired: 1963
This Expeditor was converted from an AT-11 Bombardier Trainer by Beech in 1953. After serving at various air force bases from 1953 to 1958, it was dropped from the USAF inventory. Acquired by the CIA airline, Air America, in 1960, it received a civilian registration of N7950C. 
The aircraft operated throughout Southeast Asia from 1960-1975. Early operations included humanitarian airlift in Laos and hauling supplies and refugees.
In 1964 it moved to Saigon and transported agents and supplies to remote airfields. After several accidents during this period, including an in-flight collision, it was used temporarily for spare parts in Bangkok, Thailand. Its final assignment was Tainan, Taiwan and was then donated to the U.S. Marine Corps Air/Ground Museum at Quantico, VA and is on long-term loan from them.
Although lovingly restored at Dover, the plane is on long-term loan from the Marine Corps Air/Ground Museum at Quantico, Virginia.

The USAAC first ordered this type of aircraft in 1940 under the designation C-45, for use as a staff transport. These aircraft were re-designated UC-45s in 1943. Other variants included the AT-7 Navigator, introduced in 1941 for navigator training. This had a dorsal astrodome and positions for three trainees. Some 577 of these were built. 1941 also saw the introduction of the AT-11 Kansan, which was a bombing/gunnery trainer. Production of the AT-11 totaled 1,582, and included 36 examples completed as the AT-11A navigation trainer. Another Model 18 variant was the F-2 photo-reconnaissance model, of which 69 examples were acquired. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps also procured the Model 18, with a total of over 1,500 examples. The JRB-1 was the equivalent of the F-2, the JRB-2 was a transport, and the JRB-3 and -4 were the equivalent of the UC-45. The SNB-1, -2, & -3 were the equivalents of the AT-11, -7, and -7C, respectively. The F-2 was yet another variant of the Model 18 that was built to carry two to four aerial cameras and used for reconnaissance and aerial mapping. Only about 70 of the F-2 models were built. Other variants of the Model 18 included an air ambulance and a electronics countermeasure trainer. The Air Corps ordered eleven Beech Model B18S aircraft in late 1939 and designated them C-45.

The planes were essentially identical to the civilian version of the aircraft and used by the Army for light transport, staff and liaison missions. The plane was powered by two Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior radials and cruised at 211 miles per hour carrying a maximum of six passengers and crew. The Air Corps ordered more than 1300 C-45s with most produced as the C-45F. During the early 1950s, Beech completely rebuilt 900 C-45s for the Air Force. They received new serial numbers and were designated C-45Gs and C-45Hs, remaining in service until 1963 for administrative and light cargo duties.

  • Manufacturer: Lockheed
  • First Flight: 14 March 1947
  • Retired: 1967
C-121C Super Constellation
In 1996, Amoco Corporation purchased a lot in Penndel, Pennsylvania, which contained a restaurant topped by a Lockheed C-121 Constellation aircraft. Realizing the historical significance of the plane, Amoco offered the plane to the Air Mobility Command Museum. It was transported to the museum in December of 1997 and is now completely restored.
The Constellation was the first commercial transport plane to travel at 300 mph and was the last of the great American propeller-driven airliners.
Although President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to fly while in office in 1945 on the C-54 Sacred Cow, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to fly on an aircraft using the Air Force One call sign. This aircraft was the VC-121A Columbine II.
The military adapted the plane for its further use in the 1950s and 60s by modifying it for radar and using it as an aerial extension of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, and in aiding in the rescue of downed aircraft in Southeast Asia. In addition, the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) used a fleet of 70 C-121s from 1948 to 1967.

There are 40-50 Constellations worldwide today.

Howard Hughes was one of the driving forces behind the design of the Lockheed Constellation commercial transport. During WWII, the USAAF purchased 22 early model Constellations which were designated C-69s. At the end of the war, the USAAF decided to standardize the Douglas C-54 as its four-engine transport of choice, and promptly declared most of the C-69s as surplus. Production of the basic design was turned over to the civilian markets which lead to the famous Constellation series of airliners.
The C-121A was the military variation of the commercial Model 749 Constellation. Between 1948 and 1955 the USAF ordered 150 C-121As for use as cargo/passenger carriers, executive transports, and airborne early warning aircraft. As a troop carrier, they could carry a maximum of 44 passengers.
Fifty-five percent of the Super Constellations built by Lockheed were delivered to the U.S. Navy and Air Force. A majority of the aircraft were used for electronic reconnaissance and airborne early warning. In the mid-1960s, the Air Force sent the first EC-121 Warning Star to Southeast Asia to maintain radar surveillance over North Vietnam and then later to warn of MIG attacks and alert American pilots who were straying over Chinese territory.

Most C-121As were later converted into the VC-121A VIP transport configuration for use by top ranking officials such as Generals MacArthur and Eisenhower. The lone VC-121E Constellation (#53-7885) was named Columbine III and was used throughout the Eisenhower Administration as Air Force One.

  • Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin
  • First Flight: 30 June 1968
  • Retired: Still in service

C-5A Galaxy

Serial Number: 69-0014

On 24 October 1974, the Air Force successfully conducted an Air Mobile Feasibility Test when C-5A Galaxy 69-0014 (this aircraft!) air dropped an 86,000-lb Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from 20,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean. The missile descended to 8,000 feet under a parachute before its rocket engine fired. The 10-second engine burn carried the missile to 20,000 feet again before it dropped into the ocean. The test proved the feasibility of launching an ICBM from the air. Due to engineering and security difficulties, however, the program was not continued. In the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), the capability was used as a negotiating point.
69-0014 was the first factory new C-5A assigned to Dover AFB, DE in 1973 and on 20 October 2013 it moved to the AMC Museum marking the first time a C-5 was retired to a museum.

As the Air Force’s largest and only strategic airlifter, the C-5 Galaxy can carry more cargo farther distances than any other aircraft. With a payload of six Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs) or up to five helicopters, the C-5 can haul twice as much cargo as any other airlifter.
The C-5 entered operational service in 1970 and has been a vital asset in every military operation since that time including Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom. It has also been essential in humanitarian relief efforts including hurricane Katrina, tsunami and earthquake relief. With a service life that stretches beyond 2040, the C-5 will remain a central figure in strategic airlift for decades to come.

  • Manufacturer: Boeing
  • First Flight: 31 August 1957
  • Retired: Still in service
KC-135E Stratotanker

Serial Number: 57-1507

The KC-135 Stratotanker provides the core aerial refueling capability for the United States Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. This unique asset enhances the Air Force’s capability to accomplish its primary missions of Global Reach and Global Power. It also provides aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft. The KC-135 is also capable of transporting litter and ambulatory patients using patient support pallets during aeromedical evacuations.
Four turbofans, mounted under 35-degree swept wings, power the KC-135 to takeoffs at gross weights up to 322,500 pounds. Nearly all internal fuel can be pumped through the flying boom, the KC-135’s primary fuel transfer method. A special shuttlecock-shaped drogue, attached to and trailing behind the flying boom, may be used to refuel aircraft fitted with probes. Some aircraft have been configured with the Multipoint Refueling System (MPRS).
MPRS configured aircraft are capable of refueling two receiver aircraft simultaneously from special “pods” mounted on the wingtips. One crewmember, known as the boom operator, is stationed in the rear of the plane and controls the boom during in-flight air refueling. A cargo deck above the refueling system can hold a mixed load of passengers and cargo. Depending on fuel storage configuration, the KC-135 can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo.
After checking out a few other aircraft we headed inside to investigate the hangar. As we walked from the entrance past the gift shop along a hallway to the hangar, there were pictures of many Medal of Honor recipients. Each had a story of their service and heroism, awe inspiring to say the least.

We made our way into the hangar and were greeted with the Boeing B17.

  • Manufacturer: Boeing
  • First Flight: 28 July 1935
  • Retired: 6 August 1959

B-17G Flying Fortress
Serial Number: 44-83624

One of the most charismatic planes in the collection is undoubtedly the B-17G Flying Fortress that completed a long-term refurbishment. Although produced too late to see combat in WWII, #44-83624 saw extensive service first in a highly secret project that resurrected the idea of using obsolete aircraft as radio-controlled flying bombs, then as a drone-control aircraft in the ground-to-air missile development program. In 1957, it was retired to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. In 1989, it was given to Dover to replace the famous B-17G “Shoo-Shoo-Shoo Baby” that was restored here over a ten-year period and flown back, under her own power, to Wright-Patterson’s Museum.
The B-17 was America’s most famous heavy bomber during WWII. Over 12,000 were produced for combat. Today only about 40 remain in museums. Less than a dozen of these are in flying condition. This Fortress was one of the last on active duty in the Air Force. It is the sole remaining aircraft from the 1948 Flying Bomb project (MB-17G), and served as a Drone Director (DB-17G) with the Guided Missile Wing at Eglin AFB, FL. Disassembled at the USAF Museum, it was flown to Dover in a C-5. After a seven year restoration it is painted and marked as Sleepy Time Gal from the 381st Bomb Group.

One of the most well known bombers of all time, the B-17 Flying Fortress became famous for the long daylight bombing raids over Europe in WWII. While it lacked the range and bomb load of its contemporary B-24 Liberator, the B-17 became the more famous of the two due to the many tales of B-17s bringing their crews back home despite heavy damage. With up to thirteen machine guns, the B-17 seemed to be genuine flying “fortress in the sky.” However, bomber losses reached the unacceptable point in 1943 in the face of stiff German opposition, and the B-17s welcomed the introduction of long-range fighter escort before they could continue their war against the Reich.
Project 299, as Boeing called it, got started on August 16, 1934, only eight days after the company had received the official government request for a prototype multi-engine bomber to be ready by August of the following year. Specifications called for a plane that could carry a payload of 2,000 pounds a distance of between 1,000 and 2,000 miles at speeds between 200 and 250 m.p.h. The Boeing designers took advantage of the knowledge they had gained in building the civil transport Model 247 and in developing the Model 294 bomber. Less than a month later, after the prototypes first flight on July 28, 1935, it took the air from Seattle Washington to Wright Patterson AFB Ohio to show it could fly over 2,000 miles nonstop in nine hours. Few B-17s were in service on December 7, 1941 during the raid of Pearl Harbor, but production quickly accelerated.

The aircraft served in every WWII combat zone, but is best known for daylight strategic bombing of German industrial targets. Production ended in May 1945 and totaled 12,731. The name Flying Fortress has entered the world of myth and legend. Perhaps more than any other plane, the B-17 represented the power of American aviation in the years that Europe was overrun by Axis troops.

There were many displays throughout the hangar and Joe and I spent time reading information and even watching movies. It was a fun day spent with my brother and looking back on military aviation history.
Admission & Hours

Admission and parking are both free!
The Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Museum is closed on Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years

No comments: