Air-Minded: Air Museum News

IMG_5161That’s my friend and fellow air museum volunteer Loc Ho, departing this week for his first aeronautical engineering job at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. I’ll miss this sharp young man.

When he first started volunteering at Pima Air & Space, Loc Ho was an engineering student at the University of Arizona. He looked me up because he’s a great fan of the F-15 Eagle and wanted to learn more about it, and we became friends. Lately he’s been working in restoration, where he’s been keeping me in the loop on what’s happening in that secretive department. Now I’m losing my eyes and ears, and will have to find other ways to get the news.

Since my last foray into the fenced-off resto yard, the museum has issued several “be no” messages to volunteers, as in “There will be no unauthorized visits to restoration by no-account docents, especially those driving purloined golf carts.” I can take a hint, guys. Until the next time I think no one’s looking, that is.

This photo, in accordance with current PASM guidance, was taken from outside the restoration yard fence:

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That’s one of PASM’s newest acquisitions, an F-16C formerly assigned to the Arizona Air National Guard (the huge aircraft behind it, a B-52D, is getting its Vietnam War-era camouflage refreshed). The Viper appears to be missing its afterburner, and much remains to be done in terms of stripping and painting. When it’s ready to go on display, I assume they’ll park it near the museum’s F-15, which itself recently came out of resto with new paint, and that means they’ll have to move a lot of USAF fighters around to make room for it. Good, more grist for the blog!

Speaking of grist for the blog, I wonder when we’ll get a B-1B Lancer, an F/A-18E Super Hornet, an F-15E Strike Eagle, or any of the remotely-piloted aircraft currently in use: a Predator, a Reaper, a Global Hawk. Ten years from now, will PASM have an F-22 Raptor, an F-35 Lightning II, and a C-17 Globemaster III? Seeing as how there are only 20 of them, I doubt we’ll ever get a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, and unless the county grants us more acreage there’s no place to park a C-5 Galaxy, but I can’t for the life of me understand why we don’t have an F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter, or even an old U-2 spy plane, especially seeing as how U-2s were once based across the street at Davis-Monthan. Guess I’ll find out when everybody else does.

That’s the latest news from Pima Air & Space, where all the docents are learned, all the planes are authentically marked, and all the visitors are special.

© 2018, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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