Warner Robins and Macon Road Trip Scanning Report; 11/12 June 2018

Since my nephew is thinking about joining the military after he graduates from high school, I took him on a trip to the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, and the Andersonville National Historic Site/Cemetery on Monday and Tuesday. We went to the Museum of Aviation with a side trip to the big Bass Pro Shops in Macon on Monday, stayed overnight in Warner Robins and then went to the National Infantry Museum and Andersonville on Tuesday, driving back home to Savannah on Tuesday evening. Since I wasn’t traveling alone, I didn’t have as much radio time as usual, but I did let the Home Patrol 2 and TRX-2 in the mobile station and the BCD436HP and TRX-1 portables scan and log during the trip.

Of particular interest on the first day of the trip, was Robins AFB. I always enjoy listening to military aviation activity at Robins and on Monday I was able to hear the usual E-8 JSTARS and Air Logistics Center activity, but some P-8s from NAS Jacksonville doing pattern work as well. The USAF TRS site at Robins AFB is something I usually listen to as well.  During this trip, I was able to ascertain that the USAF TRS encrypted talkgroup that is listed as “Doghouse” on RadioReference seems to be associated with the 116th/461st ACW and that the encrypted talkgroup 56166 seems to be the 116th/461st ACW MOC net.

Robins AFB
133.225 – Tower
257.975 – Tower
121.850 – Ground
275.800 – Ground
134.100 – Base Ops
225.925 – Robins ALC Ops
293.525 – 116th/461st ACW “PEACHTREE Ops”
119.600 – Atlanta TRACON
124.200 – Atlanta TRACON
279.600 – Atlanta TRACON
134.500 – ZTL South Departure Low
360.750 – ZTL South Departure Low

USAF TRS
TG 56046 – unknown
TG 56070 – ALC MOC
TG 56082 – ALC
TG 56121 – Robins AFB Base Ops
TG 56122 – Robins AFB Tower
TG 56123 – Robins AFD FD Dispatch
TG 56141 – Doghouse (enc); related to 116th/46st ACW)
TG 56166 – 116th/461st ACW (enc) (suspect this is MOC net)
TG 56192 – unknown
TG 56193 – unknown
TG 56257 – unknown

Monday evening and night’s weather around Warner Robins wasn’t very good. so it delayed several E-8 JSTARS flights at Robins AFB and generated a good bit of traffic on MOC nets at the base. TIGER 04 (P-8A, 169007, VP-8) and TIGER 88 (P-8A, 168760, VP-8) got in some pattern work at Robins before the storms came and DRACO 06 (E-8C, 00-2000, 116th/461st ACW) and PEACH 99 (E-8C, 94-0284, 116th/461st ACW) finally took off late in the evening after having to delay takeoff for lightning in the area.

TIGER 88 TIGER 4 3
ADS-B plot of TIGER 04 (P-8A, 169007, VP-8) and TIGER 88 (P-8A, 168760, VP-8) in the pattern at Robins AFB on 11 June 2018
IMG_20180611_213050_resize
The laptop running with a RadarBox Micro ADS-B/Mode-S receiver, TRX-1 andBCD436HP scanners connected to the laptop, and a BC125AT at the motel room in Warner Robins

At the Museum of Aviation, a number of aircraft are under restoration, including their B-17G, HU-16, and VP-26B. All three are in the Scott Exhibit Hangar behind the Eagle Building (main building). Unfortunately, the EC-135 that used to be the CENTCOM command post aircraft is still out back behind the museum with parts of the aircraft removed. I hope they get some funding at some point to restore it. The last time I visited the museum, someone asked if John Travolta’s Gulfstream was still there; on this visit, I looked behind the hangars and it is still there.

 

 

After spending the night in Warner Robins, we left for Fort Benning and Andersonville on Tuesday morning. The morning was foggy and there were rain showers and thunderstorms throughout the day, so I didn’t hear all that much activity around Fort Benning. The radios did log some aviation activity from Lawson AAF and some land mobile traffic from the Fort Benning TRS, but nothing new was turned up since my last visit there in 2017.

Fort Benning
119.050 – Lawson AAF Tower
269.525 – Lawson AAF Tower
125.500 – Atlanta Approach/Departure
126.550 – Atlanta Approach/Departure
323.100 – Atlanta Approach/Departure
134.100 – Lawson AAF Base Ops
245.700 – Lawson AAF Base Ops
121.050 – Lawson AAF GCA
132.400 – Lawson AAF GCA
307.325 – Lawson AAF GCA

Fort Benning TRS
TG 3041 – unknown
TG 3255 – Bayonet Battalion
TG 3274 – unknown
TG 3389 – unknown
TG 3453 – Lawson AAF
TG 3517 – Transportation
TG 3636 – Ammunition
TG 3537 – unknown
TG 3567 – Range Control?
TG 3701 – E911
TG 3703 – Range Control

While my nephew, who is really interested in the Rangers, enjoyed seeing the Ranger related exhibits at the National Infantry Museum, I took particular interest in some of their World War I exhibits. I never get tired of seeing the Renault FT tanks there and the M1916 Armored Car. On this visit, they had the Global War on Terror memorial completed across from the Vietnam War memorial. Just as the Vietnam War memorial has all the names of those killed in action during the Vietnam War, the Global War on Terror memorial has all of the names of those killed in action during that conflict.

 

 

After we visited the National Infantry Museum, since it wasn’t very far away, I thought it was important that my nephew see the site of the Civil War prison camp, the Prisoner of War Museum, and the cemetery at the Andersonville National Historic Site. I felt that if he was going to see all of the “cool” stuff about military history at the National Infantry Museum, he should see the other side of military history at Andersonville. I wanted him to impress upon him that the military wasn’t always glamorous and that there was a downside to military history that we need to remember. Luckily we got there just as the afternoon guided tour was about to begin. Park Service intern Jessica gave the tour and did a magnificent job of it. She just didn’t point out was there and what happened there, but also encouraged us to think and contemplate upon what happened at Andersonville. It was something I’m glad my nephew was able to experience.

 

In the bottom left photo above, of the graves of Union prisoners of war who died at Andersonville, I’ll call your attention to the six gravestones that sit off to the right on their own. These are the graves of the Raiders, a group of POWs who robbed from and killed their fellow POWs. They were tried by a jury of the peers and hanged by their peers by permission of the Confederate camp commander. They are considered dishonorably discharged and aren’t honored on holidays as are the rest of the POWs buried at Andersonville.

On both Monday and Tuesday, we were within listening range of the Bulldog MOA in east/central Georgia and could hear F-16s from Shaw AFB and McEntire JNGB as well as F-35Bs from MCAS Beaufort operating in the MOA on 343.750. We could also hear them entering and exiting the MOA on 322.325 with Atlanta Center.

There was a lot of public safety radio traffic to hear during the trip. In addition to local agencies in Georgia, we could hear local public safety agencies in Alabama while around Fort Benning and Columbus. Given the mix of urban and rural areas we went through, there was a mix of conventional and trunked systems as well as a mix of analog and digital traffic.

Georgia Conventional Public Safety
154.3550 (PL 141.3) – Butts Co FD Dispatch
154.1750 (PL 88.5) – Crawford Co FD Dispatch
154.0700 (PL 186.2) – Laurens Co FD Dispatch (Analog)
155.4000 (PL 85.4) – Macon Co FD/EMS Dispatch
155.6475 (PL 110.9) – Schley FD Dispatch
155.5500 (PL 225.7) – Talbot Co VFD
154.2650 (PL 156.7) – Taylor Co FD Dispatch
160.6650 (PL 118.8) – Upson Co FD Dispatch
159.1950 (PL 100.0) – Upson Co EMS Dispatch

Georgia State Public Safety
159.2250 (PL 179.9) – GFC D2 Repeater
159.2250 (PL 123.0) – GFC D3 Macon Repeater
159.1200 (DCS 047) – GFC D4 Covington Repeater
159.2400 (PL 167.9) – GFC D6 Bleckley Repeater

Alabama Conventional Public Safety
159.4350 (PL 107.2) – Barbour Co, AL Fire 1
151.1150 (PL 167.9) – Lee Co, AL Common
155.1450 (PL 123.0) – Lee Co, AL FD East Dispatch
154.0250 (PL 167.9) – Lee Co, AL EMS 1
155.8950 (PL 107.2) – Lee Co, AL EMS 2
154.4000 (DCS 134) – Auburn FD (Lee Co, AL)
154.1900 (PL 123.0) – Russell Co, AL Fire North Dispatch
154.3250 (PL 123.0) – Russell Co, AL Fire West Dispatch
453.0750 (PL 151.4) – Phenix City FD 1 (Russell Co, AL)

Central Georgia Interoperable Regional Radio System (P25)
TG 132 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Dispatch 1
TG 134 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Scene 2
TG 135 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Scene 3
TG 136 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Scene 4
TG 151 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Event 1
TG 152 – Macon-Bibb Co FD Event 2

Houston/Peach TRS (P25)
TG 16 – Houston Co FD Dispatch
TG 17 – Houston Co FD FG 1
TG 61 – Warner Robins FD Dispatch
TG 64 – Warner Robins FD Training
TG 65 – Warner Robins FD Talk
TG 91 – Centerville FD Dispatch
TG 121 – Perry FD Dispatch

Muscogee County TRS (P25)
TG 71 – Columbus FD Dispatch

 

Robins AFB Museum of Aviation Trip

Warner Robins, GA – After I woke up this morning, I made a last-minute decision to drive up to Warner Robins today and visit the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB. I had planned to go a few weeks back to see the newly restored F-100 and the progress on their B-17, but I got sick enough to make an emergency room visit and that canceled out the trip. Another purpose of the trip was to see how well the camera in the Google Pixel phone I bought earlier this year worked in the indoor low light of the museum. As it turned out, my last-minute, spur of the moment decision was a good one.

Even though I took the Canon with me, the only photos I took today were with the camera in the Google Pixel. A lot of the displays in the museum and hangars are somewhat dim and even with the external flash I was never happy with the results when I took photos with the Canon. I was really impressed today with the photos I took inside; as you can see in the examples below, it handled the low light really well.

F-15 inside the Museum of Aviation’s Rotunda (photo taken with Google Pixel)
F-111 at the Museum of Aviation (photo taken with Google Pixel)
F-111 at the Museum of Aviation (photo taken with Google Pixel)
SR-17 at the Museum of Aviation (photo taken with Google Pixel)
SR-71 at the Museum of Aviation (photo taken with Google Pixel)

As for the B-17, the fuselage is in half and they have been working on stripping the exterior and have done interior paint work. A dome turret and the ball turret have been restored and are looking great. There’s still a lot of work to do, though and I look forward to make more visits to see their progress!

The halves of the Museum of Aviation’s B-17 fuselage; the exterior has been stripped down and paintwork has been done on the inside
The rear half of the Museum of Aviation’s B-17 fuselage is stripped down; you can see where the roundel was
The ball turret of the Museum of Aviation’s B-17 has been restored and looks great!
The dome turret of the Museum of Aviation’s B-17 has also been restored
Zooming in to see the front half of the Museum of Aviation’s B-17 fuselage, you can see they’re also doing restoration work on their HU-16 Albatross

A few years ago, the Museum of Aviation swapped F-100s with another museum in order to obtain one with a combat history. That new F-100D Super Sabre was restored to how it looked when it saw service in Vietnam and was recently moved into Hangar One with the other Vietnam-era aircraft; it’s the first thing you see now when you walk in to Hangar One. It looks great and as you walk in and turn left you follow the progression of the F-100 to the F-105 to the F-4 with a MiG-15 sitting opposite the F-105 and F-4.

The Museum of Aviation’s recently restored F-100D, 56-2995 on display in Hangar One
The Museum of Aviation’s recently restored F-100D, 56-2995 on display in Hangar One
The Museum of Aviation’s recently restored F-100D, 56-2995 on display in Hangar One
F-105 on Display in the Museum of Aviation’s Hangar One
MiG-15 on display in the Museum of Aviation’s Hangar One
F-4 on display in the Museum of Aviation’s Hangar One

The best part of my day, however, was when I walked out of the Century of Flight Hangar. As I walked out I heard what sounded like a jet fighter taking off from Robins AFB; I thought that certainly they wouldn’t be flight testing a F-15 out of the Robins ALC on a Sunday morning and sure enough the white aircraft I could see climbing out in the distance definitely wasn’t the shape of an F-15. It continued to climb and made a turn to the south that brought it almost over the museum grounds. It was too high to take a picture of even if I had brought the Canon out of the car, but there was no mistaking the profile of a U-2! It was NASA 809, one of NASA’s research ER-2s. I’ve heard the ER-2s on several occasions, but this was my first time seeing an ER-2/U-2 in flight, so watching 809 depart made my day.

Another project during my trip was monitoring Laurens County’s DRM Fire and EMS frequencies to try to learn more about the system and what I need to program in for them. I stopped in Dublin and listened to what I found on RadioReference with my Uniden BCD436HP and came to the conclusion that it seems that they’re multicasting on DMR repeaters placed at different locations with the county in order to have good coverage in what’s a fairly large county. I noticed that the traffic was being multicast on at least 3 frequencies for both Fire and EMS and the signal strength of each varied; sure enough, when I got home and checked the license (WSL511), each frequency was licensed for a different site (hence the L# after each frequency below).  Based on what I heard, if you you’re just passing through the county, you’re good just programming in the frequencies licensed at Location/Site 11, but if you live in Laurens County or travel through other parts of it, you’ll want to program them all in. Without a doubt, there is more to figure out, but in the short time I had this is what I’ve got:

154.1900 – Laurens County FD Dispatch (Slot 1/Color 1) (multicast) – L5
154.4000 – Laurens County FD Dispatch (Slot 1/Color 1) (multicast) – L2
155.3550 – Laurens County FD Dispatch (Slot 1/Color 1) (multicast) – L11
154.8225 – Laurens County EMS Dispatch (Slot 1/Color 1) (multicast) – L9
154.9950 – Laurens County EMS Dispatch (Slot 1/Color 1) (multicast) – L5
156.1350 – Laurens County EMS Dispatch (Slot 1/Color 1) (multicast) – L11

L2 = 200 Industrial Blvd
L5 = 1411 S. Poplar Springs Church Rd
L9 = US 80/3rd St
L11 = Tower at Laurens County 911 Center (near I-16)

The Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB – 30 December 2016

Warner Robins, GA – My nephew Kaleb and I drove up to Warner Robins from Savannah today and visited the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB. It’s the first time I’ve been in over a year and the first time Kaleb’s been in a long time. The main reason I went up was to see what kind of progress they’re making on their recently acquired B-17 and I thought Kaleb would enjoy since he’s out of school this week – so I invited him along for the trip.

My nephew seemed to enjoy the trip; here he is in the Museum of Aviation's RF-4C weapons systems trainer
My nephew seemed to enjoy the trip; here he is in the Museum of Aviation’s RF-4C weapons systems trainer

The museum’s B-17G, 44-83690, seems to be in the stripping/cleaning phase of restoration. It is in a multitude of pieces and is mostly down to the bare metal on the exterior. The instrument panel is complete and they have it on display in front of the fuselage. The fuselage is in half with the wings, horizontal stabilizer, and vertical stabilizer removed. The stabilizers and wings are on display nearby (one wing section is nicely displayed so that you can see the turbo-superchargers and recess for the main landing gear). It reminded me of the early days of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum’s B-17G, and if that project was any indicator it will take the museum awhile to complete the restoration. That said, they’ve made a good bit of progress already!

The Museum of Aviation's B-17G,,44-83690's fuselage in half (and in Rudolph livery for Christmas!) for stripping/cleaning.
The Museum of Aviation’s B-17G,,44-83690’s fuselage in half (and in Rudolph livery for Christmas!) for stripping/cleaning.
The Museum of Aviation's B-17G,,44-83690's fuselage in half (and in Rudolph livery for Christmas!) for stripping/cleaning.
The Museum of Aviation’s B-17G,,44-83690’s fuselage in half (and in Rudolph livery for Christmas!) for stripping/cleaning.
44-83690's wings are removed and stood up for display across from the fuselage (this one so you can see the turbo-superchargers and recess for the main landing gear)
44-83690’s wings are removed and stood up for display across from the fuselage (this one so you can see the turbo-superchargers and recess for the main landing gear)
44-83690's horizontal stabilizer on display near the fusealge
44-83690’s horizontal stabilizer on display near the fusealge
44-83690's vertical stabilizer on display next to the fuselage
44-83690’s vertical stabilizer on display next to the fuselage
Some of 44-83690's bomb racks on display near the fuselage
Some of 44-83690’s bomb racks on display near the fuselage
44-83690's chin turret mount and seat
44-83690’s chin turret mount and seat
44-83690's tail gunner compartment
44-83690’s tail gunner compartment
44-83690's completed instrument panel on display in front of the fuselage
44-83690’s completed instrument panel on display in front of the fuselage

The museum’s new P-51H, 44-64265, was almost finished with its restoration  when I visited in October 2015 (they were mounting the propeller that day). It’s now completed and is on display with the other World War II aircraft. 44-64265 is beautifully turned out and truly looks sharp sitting next to the museum’s B-29. One of only six P-51Hs remaining in existence, 44-64265 is the only one on public display. Although it didn’t see combat, it is painted to resemble one that did.

The Museum of Aviation's P-51H Mustang,  44-64265
The Museum of Aviation’s P-51H Mustang, 44-64265
The Museum of Aviation's P-51H Mustang,  44-64265
The Museum of Aviation’s P-51H Mustang, 44-64265

I always have to take some photos of my favorites when I’m at the museum and today was no exception.  The MH-53 Pave Low has always been a favorite of mine and the museum’s MH-53M 70-1626 is a veteran of long service to her country; among the conflicts she saw service in were Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom. They also have a triumvirate of reconnaissance aircraft on display together: a U-2, SR-71, and RQ-4. There aren’t very many places where you can see those three together showing the progression of aerial reconnaissance technology.  I also have a love of Forward Air Controller aircraft such as the museum’s O-1, O-2, OV-10, and A-10. Having Kaleb along also let me try to pass on some of my enthusiasm for military aviation and military history; today I told him about the air combat in Vietnam between the F-4s and MiG-17s.

MH-53M (70-1626)
MH-53M (70-1626)
SR-71A (61-7958), U-2D (56-6682), and RQ-4A GLOBAL HAWK (02-2011)
SR-71A (61-7958), U-2D (56-6682), and RQ-4A GLOBAL HAWK (02-2011)
SR-71A (61-7958)
SR-71A (61-7958)
O-1E/L-19A (51-12857)
O-1E/L-19A (51-12857)
O-2A (67-21380)
O-2A (67-21380)
OV-10A (67-14263)
OV-10A (67-14263)
A-10A (75-0305)
A-10A (75-0305)
F-4D (66-7554)
F-4D (66-7554)
MiG-17 540713
MiG-17 540713

It’s worth noting that a number of aircraft have been moved in to the display hangars and appear to be in various phases of or about to undergo restoration. The F-86 is in the Century of Flight hangar, where it’s been for awhile, but looks like it might be about ready to go back on display. Some of the outside aircraft (such as the C-141) have been moved around as well.

If you have any interest, even just a passing one, in aviation the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB is well worth the visit.

 

The Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB – Post Cold War Displays

Warner Robins – Although some of the aircraft in this post saw service during the Cold War and some of the aircraft in the Cold War post saw service afterwards, this post concentrates on aircraft from the post Cold War era on display at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation, essentially from Desert Shield/Storm onward. This is the last of five blog posts on a recent trip to the Musem of Aviation, others in the series include New Additions, Vietnam Era Aircraft, World War II/Korean War Era Aircraft, and Cold War Era Aircraft.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II, better known as the “Warthog” is another of my favorite aircraft. An old school low, slow, and tough attack aircraft built around a massive 30mm gun, the A-10 has been in service with the US Air Force since 1975. Initially designed to be an anti-tank aircraft during the Cold War, the A-10 didn’t see combat until Desert Shield/Storm in 1991 as close air support specialist, after which it served in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq again, and Libya. It continues to see service in our Middle Eastern wars to this day. The museum’s example, A-10A 73-0305 was delivered in July 1977 and saw service with the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing at Myrtle Beach AFB, SC and the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing at Davis Monthan AFB, AZ. Retired from active flying in 1992, it was used a maintenance instruction trainer at Eielson AFB, AK (hence the AK markings) until it was acquired by the museum in 2007. While this aircraft never served at Moody AFB, A-10s are based at Moody AFB in south Georgia and can be heard flying training missions throughout the area, including Townsend Range south of Savannah.

A-10A Thunderbolt II (75-0305) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
A-10A Thunderbolt II (75-0305) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
A-10A Thunderbolt II (75-0305) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
A-10A Thunderbolt II (75-0305) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
A-10A Thunderbolt II (75-0305) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
A-10A Thunderbolt II (75-0305) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

Perhaps one of the most versatile aircraft ever produced:  the C-130 Hercules. The first C-130 flew in 1954 and 60 years later the type is still in service not only with the United States armed services but service throughout the world! The C-130 normally fulfills assault/transport/cargo roles, but in the AC-130 gunship version it provides gunfire support by providing close air support at night with a variety of weapons systems and highly sophisticated sensor systems. The musem’s example, AC-130A Spectre 55-0014 was delivered as a standard C-130 in 1956 and converted to an AC-130A in 1970. It served in multiple conflicts including Southeast Asia from 1971 to 1975 and in Desert Shield/Storm in 1991. In 1995 it was retired and flown to Robins AFB for display at the museum.  The Robins AFB ALC is responsible for service and support of US Air Force C-130s. More modern versions of the AC-130 can be heard and seen in Georgia from time to time as they train around the state.

AC-130A Spectre (55-0014) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
AC-130A Spectre (55-0014) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

Originally designed as a swept wing supersonic strategic bomber and cancelled by the Carter administration in the 1970s and resurrected by the Reagan administration in the 1980s, the B-1B finally entered service in 1986 as a strategic nuclear bomber with the US Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC). In the 1990s, however, SAC was disestablished and the B-1B transitioned to a conventional role. In its conventional role, it has seen service in Iraq and Kosovo in the 1990s and in Afghanistan and Iraq in our more recent wars. The museum’s example, 83-0069 was acquired by the museum and painted as 86-0098, a B-1B that served with the Georgia Air National Guard in the 116th Bomb Wing (now the 116th Air Control Wing flying the E-8 JSTARS).  Many times I enjoyed listening to the B-1Bs from the 116th BW prior to the wing’s transition to the JSTARS mission in the early 2000s as they flew training missions around the area including at Townsend Range south of Savannah in southeast Georgia.

B-1B Lancer (83-0069) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
B-1B Lancer (83-0069) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
B-1B Lancer (83-0069) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
B-1B Lancer (83-0069) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
B-1B Lancer (83-0069) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
B-1B Lancer (83-0069) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

The C-141 Starlifter was the predecessor of the C-17 Globemaster III as the workhorse of US Air Force airlift operations, serving from 1965 to 2006. The museum’s example, C-141C 65-0248 was delivered in 1966 and served with the 60th Military Airlift Wing at Travis AFB, CA, the 62nd Military Airlift Wing at McChord AFB, WA, the 63rd Military Airlift Wing at Norton AFB, CA and the 729th Airlift Squadron at March AFB, CA before it was retired in 2005 and transferred to the Museum of Aviation.  The C-141s connection to Robins AFB is that the Robins ALC was responsible for servicing and supporting the C-141, in fact 65-0248 was the final C-141 to undergo Programmed Depot Maintenance at the ALC in 2003. Before they were replaced by the C-17 at Charleston AFB, SC I listened to C-141s on a regular basis and watched many a Starlifter come and go from Hunter AAF in Savannah.

C-141 Starlifter (65-0248) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

EC-135N Stratotanker (61-0327) is an aircraft that I have written about on this blog before. 61-0327  saw service at McGuire AFB as a cargo aircraft, at Patrick AFB as a Test Range aircraft, as a test aircraft at Wright Patterson AFB, as an airborne command post at Robins AFB, and finally as a command aircraft at MacDill AFB. During its service at MacDill AFB, it was the command aircraft for the CENTCOM commander, including for Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during Desert Storm. In 2003 it was retired from service and delivered to Robins AFB for display at the Museum of Aviation. 10 years later, it was moved from its location toward the front of the museum property to the rear of the property and half of its wings removed. Due to budget and funding issues, it is likely destined for the scrapyard unless funding can be found to move it elsewhere. It would truly be a shame for this historical airframe to be lost; it has seen so much history.

EC-135N Stratotanker (61-0327) on display at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
EC-135N Stratotanker (61-0327) on display at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

The F-15 Eagle is an air superiority fighter that has formed the backbone of US Air Force air defense and escort operations since it was introduced in the mid 1970s. While the museum’s example is an F-15A, the F-15 continues to serve in the air defense/interceptor/escort role with the F-15C and in the strike mission as the F-15E Strike Eagle. The museum’s F-15A (73-0085) was delivered in 1974 and served with 56th Fighter Weapons Wing at Luke AFB, AZ and the 159th Tactical Fighter Group at NAS New Orleans, LA before being retired in 1988 and transferred to the museum. It is prominently displayed in the atrium of the Museum of Aviation’s main building. The Robins AFB Air Logistics Center (ALC) is responsible for the service and support of the F-15 Eagle. Although there are no F-15s based in Georgia, Florida Air National Guard F-15s can be heard almost daily operating off of the Georgia coast from their base in Jacksonville.

F-15A Eagle (73-0085) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
F-15A Eagle (73-0085) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
F-15A Eagle (73-0085) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
F-15A Eagle (73-0085) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single engine fighter that was originally designed as a daytime air superiority fighter but instead became an all weather multirole fighter, seeing use as a fighter, attack aircraft, and in the suppression of enemy air defenses role. The Museum of Aviation’s F-16A (81-0676) was delivered in 1982 and was one of the Thunderbirds (the USAF Demonstration Team) first F-16s as they transitioned from the T-38. In 1992, 81-0676 was transferred to the 425th Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB, AZ as an operational aircraft before transferring to Sheppard AFB, TX a ground instruction trainer in 1993. It was acquired by the museum in 2008, returned to its Thunderbirds livery and is on display in the Century of Flight Hangar. There are no F-16s based in Georgia, but there are several squadrons of F-16s based at Shaw AFB and McEntire JNGB in South Carolina; they can be heard almost daily flying training missions in central Georgia, southeast Georgia, and off of the Georgia coast.

F-16A Fighting Falcon (81-0676) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
F-16A Fighting Falcon (81-0676) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

Just as with the U-2 and SR-71 in the Cold War post, I didn’t take any photos of these last two aircraft on my recent visit, but I wanted to include them in this post on post Cold War aircraft, so I’m including photos from a previous visit. The museum’s MH-53M Pave Low IV and RQ-4A are on display in the Century of Flight Hangar.

The MH-53 Pave Low was another of my favorite aircraft. I loved to watch those huge helicopters fly low and fast around the Savannah area when they visited Hunter AAF on training exercises. You don’t expect some that large to fly like that! The museum’s example, MH-53M 70-1626 served the United States for 38 years through numerous modifications and updates in three wars:  Vietnam, Desert Shield/Storm, and Iraqi Freedom before being retired to the museum in 2008.  When you think about it, it’s impressive what 70-1626 was probably involved in and saw during its career as a special operations aircraft. It’s certainly a historic aircraft and I’m glad to see it being preserved inside and out of the elements at the Museum of Aviation.

MH-53M (70-1626)
MH-53M Pave Low IV (70-1626) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
MH-53M Pave Low IV (70-1626)
MH-53M (70-1626) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

Another recent acquisition (although not as recent as the B-17G and P-51H, the Museum of Aviation’s RQ-4A Global Hawk (02-2011) reconnaissance UAV is displayed in the Century of Flight museum alongside its manned predecessors, the U-2 Dragon Lady and SR-71 Blackbird. 02-2011 is a block 10 RQ-4A; according to Scramble it served with the 12th RS at Beale AFB.  The musuem’s press release when it was acquired indicated that it flew 357 combat sorties/7,074.4 combat hours (which at the time was more combat sorties and hours than any other Global Hawk).

RQ-4A Global Hawk (02-2011)
RQ-4A Global Hawk (02-2011) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
RQ-4A Global Hawk (02-2011)
RQ-4A Global Hawk (02-2011) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

Cold Warriors at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

Warner Robins, GA – This post is a continuation of photos that I took on a recent trip to the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB; the first three posts concentrated on new additions to the museum, some of their World War II  and Korean War displays, and some of their Vietnam era displays. This post features some of the museum’s Cold Warriors, aircraft that served during the long Cold War period. Some of the aircraft served so long that they could have, such as the B-52 featured in this post, fit easily into this post, the Vietnam post, or an upcoming post on more modern era aircraft at the museum; instead of including them in multiple posts, I’ve just included them where I think they’re most appropriate.

The TM-61A Matador was the United States’ first surface to surface cruise missile to go into operation. Capable of carrying a conventional or nuclear warhead, it operated much like Germany’s V-1 but was radio controlled to allow guidance during flight and flew on a jet engine after a rocket powered takeoff. The museum’s TM-61A (52-1891) was delivered in May 1954 and served with the 50th Fighter Bomber Wing and 69th Tactical Missile Squadron at Hahn AB, Germany. Retired from service in June 1959 and returned to the U.S. in 1965, it was acquired by the museum in 1983. The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (ALC) was responsible for TM-61 service and support.

TM-61A
TM-61A “Matador” (52-1891) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

The MGM-13A Mace is a follow on to the TM-61A Matador above. It used a turbojet for powered flight after a rocket assisted launch. Unlike the Matador, however, the Mace was not remote controlled, it had a terrain matching radar guidance system. This example, 58-1465, was delivered in February 1960 and was assigned to the Lowery Technical Training Center at Lowery AFB, CO until it was retired in 1962. It went on display in a Warner Robins park in 1967 and was acquired by the museum in 1984. Like many of the aircraft on display at the Museum of Aviation, the Warner Robins ALC was responsible for MGM-13 service and suppport.

MGM-13A
MGM-13A “Mace” (58-1465) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

The B-52 Stratofortress is a long serving, long range United States Air Force Bomber. The type has been serving for over 60 years (since 1952) and is expected to continue serving the country until the 2040s! During the B-52’s career, it has seen service in a number of wars including the long Cold War with the Soviet Union as both a conventional bomber and a strategic nuclear bomber; in its strategic nuclear role, it could easily be seen as a symbol of the Cold War. The museum’s example, B-52D 55-0085, served with 99th Bomb Wing at Andersen AFB, Guam, flying bombing missions over Vietnam in 1968 and 1972-1973 and with the 7th Bomb Wing at Carswell AFB, TX before being retired in 1983 and flown to the museum for display. B-52s were not serviced by the Robins ALC, but the type has a connection to Georgia and Robins AFB; before flying the KC-135 the 19th Air Refueling Group based at Robins AFB (now the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock AFB, AR) was the 19th Bomb Wing and was equipped with B-52s from 1961-1983.

B-52D
B-52D “Stratofortress” (55-0085) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

The B-66 Destroyer was a US Air Force derivative of the US Navy’s A3D Skywarrior (for a photo of a Navy version, see my post of aircraft from the USS Yorktown at Patriot’s Point in Charleston). While the B-66 was the Air Force’s last tactical bomber, other versions of it served in reconnaissance roles; the museum’s example is a WB-66D (55-0392), which was an electronic weather reconnaissance aircraft. It served with the 363rd Reconnaissance Wing at Shaw AFB from 1957 to 1965 and was acquired by the museum in 1985. The Robins ALC was responsible for service and support for the B-66 and its various versions.

WB-66D
WB-66D “Destroyer” (55-0392) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

The C-97 Stratorfreighter was a cargo version of the B-29 Superfortress. In 1950, the KC-97 version was introduced with the “flying boom” refueling probe. After the KC-135 was introduced in 1956, most KC-97s were replaced by the KC-135 but some were converted into KC-97Ls for the Air National Guard, like the museum’s example, 52-0298. A jet engine was added to make the aircraft more compatible with the jet aircraft it was tasked to support. 53-0298 was delivered in January 1956 and was retired from service in 1977. It was acquired by the museum in 1986. The KC-97’s connection to Georgia and Robins AFB is that some were assigned to the 19th Bomb Wing at Robins AFB during the 1950s and 1960s to support the Wing’s B-52 bombers.

KC-97L
KC-97L “Stratofreighter” (53-0298) at the Robins AFB Museum of Avation

The EC-121 was a radar version of the C-121 Constellation and the predecessor of aircraft like today’s E-3 Sentry and E-2 Hawkeye Early Warning Aircraft. Although painted in US Air Force markings, the museum’s aircraft is actually an US Navy EC-121K (141297). 141297 was retired from Navy service in 1979 and acquired by the museum in 1987. The Robins ALC was responsible for service on the EC-121’s electronic systems and propellers.

EC-121K
EC-121K “Constellation” (141297) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

Along with the C-74 Globemaster, which it evolved from, the C-124 Globemaster II is the namesake of the US Air Force’s current mobility workhorse, the C-17 Globmaster III. Much like today’s C-17, the C-124 was a versatile aircraft capable of transporting cargo, rolling stock, and passengers and provided airlift and resupply throughout the world for the US Air Force. The Museum of Aviation’s example, C-124C 51-0089 was delivered in February 1952 and served with west coast units until it was retired in 1971. The C-124 has multiple connections with Georgia. First, and specific to Robins AFB, the Robins AFB ALC was responsible for the C-124, as it is for the current C-17. Second, the 165th Tactical Airlift Group (now the 165th Airlift Wing in Savannah, GA) was the last unit to retire their C-124s in 1974.

C-124C
C-124C “Globemaster II” (51-0089) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

The F-102 Delta Dagger was the first supersonic all weather interceptor and the US Air Force’s first operational delta wing aircraft. Designed to defend the country against Soviet bombers, over 1000 were built and it helped form the core of the US Air Force air defense system in the late 1950s. The museum’s example, F-102A 56-1151, was delivered in May 1957 and served with the 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Langley AFB, VA the 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Andrews AFB, MD, and the 4756th Air Defense Group at Tyndall AFB, FL. It became an instructional airframe in 1970 before going on static display at Lackland AFB, TX in 1972. It remained on static display at Lackland until it was acquired by the museum in 2009. The Robins AFB ALC was responsible for avionics, fire control systems, and countermeasures systems on the F-102 as well as the missiles it used.

F-102A
F-102A “Delta Dagger” (56-1151) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
Closeup of the retractable missile launch system on the F-102A
Closeup of the retractable missile launch system on the F-102A “Delta Dagger” (56-1151) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

If you think the F-106 Delta Dart looks similar to the F-102 Delta Dagger, you’re right – it does. The F-106 is an improvement on and development of the F-102 with structural and design changes in addition to a more powerful engine. The museums example, F-106A 59-0123, was delivered in September 1960 and served with the 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at McChord AFB, WA and the 48th Fighter Intercepter Squadron at Langley AFB, VA. It was retired in 1982 and acquired by the museum in 1992. The Robins AFB ALC supported the F-106’s communications, fire control, and missile systems.

F-106A
F-106A “Delta Dart” (59-0123) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
Closeup of the retractable missile launch system on the F-106A
Closeup of the retractable missile launch system on the F-106A “Delta Dart” (59-0123) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation

The F-111 Aardvark was a swing wing strike aircraft that served from 1967 to 1998 (in EF-111 form). It was the product of an attempted joint aircraft program to provide the US Air Force with a strike fighter and the US Navy with an interceptor. The Navy ended up abandoning the program, but the Air Force continued on with the program as a long range low level strike aircraft. F-111s saw combat in Southeast Asia in the 1970s, over Libya in the 1980s, and in the Middle East in the 1990s. For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated by the F-111 and the way it looks; while it’s a long aircraft it has a very small frontal profile. The museum’s example, F-111E 68-0055, was delivered in November 1970 and served with the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing at Cannon AFB, NM and the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Upper Heyford in Great Britain. Retired in 1993, it was flown to Robins AFB and was put on display at the museum in 1995. The Robins AFB ALC was responsible for avionics, communications, navigation, and targeting systems on the F-111.

F-111E
F-111E “Aardvark (68-0055) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
Frontal view of F-111E
Frontal view of F-111E “Aardvark (68-0055) at the Robins AFB Museum along with a laser guided bomb and ground cart; it’s amazing how small the frontal profile of this aircraft is with its wings retracted

The photos below were taken on a previous trip to the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, but the aircraft fit so well into the Cold War theme of this post that since I didn’t take any photos of them on this trip, I couldn’t leave them out of the post. Both the U-2 and SR-71 are symbols of the Cold War and the Museum of Aviation has an example of each displayed along with an example of a modern reconnaissance aircraft, the RQ-4A Global Hawk. The U-2 “Dragon Lady” was introduced in 1957 and serves to this day in a variety of reconnaissance/intelligence roles. The museum’s example is an U-2D 56-6682; its history is unknown, but it was assigned to NASA at Moffet Field, CA before its retirement where it was used to break 16 altitude and time to climb records on 18 April 1989. It was retired and flown to the museum later in the year. The Robins AFB ALC  is responsible for supportin the U-2. The SR-71 was a long range, high altitude, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft used by the US Air Force; it was designed to fly higher than and faster than anti aircraft missile systems. During its career, the SR-71 was the undisputed fastest and highest flying aircraft. The museum’s example, SR-71A 61-7958 was delivered in 1965; like the museum’s U-2 little is known about its service record but it is known to have operated out of Kadena AFB, Japan and set a speed record in 1976. It was retired from service in and flown to Robins AFB for display at the museum on 23 February 1990.

The Museum of Aviation's RQ-4A Global Hawk (center) on display with a U-2 Dragon Lady (left) and SR-71 Blackbird (right)
The Museum of Aviation’s RQ-4A Global Hawk (center) on display with a U-2 Dragon Lady (left) and SR-71 Blackbird (right)
U-2D (56-6682)
U-2D (56-6682) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation
SR-71A (61-7958)
SR-71A (61-7958) at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation