• Air Force Armament Museum

    Posted on April 20th, 2011 John Dorcey No comments

    A quick review of our Spring 2011 museum/history tour. We left Wisconsin on Friday, April 15. An RON in Paducah, Kentucky, set up our first history stop at the Shiloh National Military Park. After an early departure Saturday morning, we arrived at Shiloh about 3½ hours later. We toured the Interpretive Center, watched the 1950s era movie, Shiloh: Portrait of a Battle, and visited the bookstore. After a picnic lunch we toured the battlefield. We then continued south to Birmingham, Alabama, for our next overnight. After Ft. Rucker we drove to Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida on Monday. We toured the National Museum of Naval Aviation yesterday.

    Entry at AF Armament Museum

    Plans for today called for a drive east to Eglin Air Force Base and the Air Force Armament Museum. Today was our third day in Florida and the Armament Museum is our third military aviation museum of the trip. The Air Force Armament Museum is located adjacent to Eglin AFB, just west of the main gate.

    The idea for an armament museum was approved by Eglin command staff in early 1974. Much like the Army Aviation Museum, a lack of facilities slowed the development process. Two years later, in 1976, the museum opened its doors for the first time, in a former Enlisted Club facility. The Air Force Armament Museum Foundation was established that same year. The on-base facility was closed in 1981 and the museum was again without a facility until 1985. In mid-November 1985 the museum again opened its doors, this time in a new 28,000-square-foot facility. The museum was now home.

    Gun Vault

    There are 25 aircraft displayed outside and four more inside the museum. In addition to the aircraft there are hundreds of munitions. A gun vault houses not only airborne guns but hundreds of pistols, rifles, carbines, and other munitions. Missiles and bombs are also well represented. A video tells the story of Eglin AFB and its role in munitions development.

    B-52G with Hound Dog

    The outside display included a Boeing B-52G Stratofortress or “BUFF” with a North American AGM-28B Hound Dog missile alongside. I spent six years working on the B-52H/Hound Dog system at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota. The missile is displayed on a storage/transportation trailer but without the pylon (adapter between the missile and the bomber’s wing).

    AC-47 "Spooky"

     

    Other unique aircraft displayed outside include: Douglas AC-47 Gunship “Spooky”; the first Lockheed AC-130 Gunship “Spectre”, AF Serial No. 53-3129; a Martin B-57 “Canberra” and a Boeing B-47 Stratojet. Outside aircraft are a little weathered and suffer from bird droppings but these are minor distractions.

    AC-130 "Spectre"

    Inside exhibits include tributes to USAF Congressional Medal of Honor recipients including Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) inductees John Jerstad and Lance Sijan. Another exhibit was a tribute to the Doolittle Raiders. The “Raiders” did training and their aircraft were modified at Eglin early in 1942 prior to their April 18, 1942 Tokyo Raid. WAHF inductee Richard Knobloch was the copilot on Aircraft 13 – “The Avenger “.

    F-105 with munitions

    We enjoyed our time at the Air Force Armament Museum. Some of the displays are in need of minor repair while others are beginning to show their age. These are minor discrepancies and should not deter anyone from visiting.

  • BUFF driver and an…ostrich?

    Posted on April 11th, 2009 Pete Drahn No comments

    Main gate, Travis AFB, CALt. Pete Drahn (left) with his crew, 1966

    I flew BUFFS before and after my year as a FAC in SEA. In about 1966, as a young copilot, myfirst operational assignment was to Travis AFB, where we had a wing vice-commander who was a terror.

    Colonel King would usually officiate over the crew changeovers in the alert shack after each seven day alert cycle. Being the grand leader that he thought he was, he would present an award to the crew that screwed up the most during the previous week. The award was a 3-foot tall statue of a crow, a former advertisement for Old Crow bourbon. He had the crow painted with white jailbird stripes and a plaque around his neck announcing “Awarded to the Worst Air Crew of the Week”, or some such language.

    After a half-year of this arrogant and sorry display of leadership and enough beers between us, another copilot, Todd Jagerson, who was a talented artist, and I built a paper mâche model of our own. It depicted an ostrich bending over with its long neck going between his legs and the head shoved up where the colonel’s was at that time. The sign announced “Awarded to the Worst Staff Officer of the Week,” or some such wording.

    Lt. Pete Drahn (left) with his crew, 1966

    The day of reckoning arrived with Todd and me on alert. We sneaked into the large briefing room after we saw the Colonel’s staff drop off the “jailbird” and retreat to the alert shack mess hall to await “The King’s” arrival. We deposited the “Staff Ostrich” right next to the “Old Crow” and beat tracks out of there.

    The briefing room was packed with around 16 tanker and bomber crews (both coming on and going off alert) 10 minutes before Col. King made hisgrand entrance. Todd and I were tucked fairly well back in the room, but sweating bullets; seeing our careers fly out the window if we got caught.

    The Old Man arrived, gave his usual glare at the assembled troops and proceeded to the stage. He stopped dead cold about 4-feet way from the Crow and Ostrich. He studied it for what seemed like 5 minutes, turned around, and departed the room. We never did get caught, but the old buzzard never hauled out that award again, and actually became a lot more respectful.

    Of course, we never told anyone and just hope the statute of limitations has run out.