Thursday, January 23, 2014

EC-121T: Aircraft History Lesson of the Day

EC-121T at Peterson AFB, CO
I find aircraft intriguing, perhaps that is why I joined the Air Force when I was younger. The other day I ran across a venerable old reconnaissance aircraft on display at the Peterson AFB, Colorado, museum. It is an EC-121T. 

I have been especially lucky on previous visits the museum to receive a personal tour of the interior of this Cold War warrior. Not on this trip however. 

This aircraft is impressive and is the largest on display at the museum. She has an impressive history and I even know at least one person who admits to being a crew member on the aircraft. 

This aircraft is one of only 22 of this model that were built and coincidently, it carried a crew of 22. I took a pretty good image of the information placard to capture at least some of the history.

But what about the deeper history of this aircraft and the men who manned the stations in its interior. I enjoy thinking about the missions that this aircraft flew--recovering safely after every one with its precious cargo of brave airmen. They were on the front lines of the Cold War between Russian and the United States. They were also on the front lines of the Viet Nam conflict. I am sure there were some very impressive or even downright scary missions completed by this aircraft and its crew.

Although my favorite aircraft of all time are the B-17G and B-52G aircraft, I really appreciate all of the different aircraft I see, and I remember their names and missions. During this trip I had the opportunity to see some other old favorites, an F-102 Delta Dagger and an F-104 Starfighter. Seeing these fighters reminded me of times gone by during the Cold War. I wonder how many missions each of them flew before retiring to be permanent displays stirring the yearning for jet flight in the hearts of little boys and old men?

They certainly stirred memories in me. I remembered being a young Second Lieutenant some decades ago and supporting the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron equipped with F-106 Delta Darts while at my first duty assignment of Griffiss AFB in upstate NY. They were fast and they were loud.

During November 2012, I wrote about a KB-50 refueling aircraft that I ran across during a visit to MacDill AFB, Florida. Another old Cold War warrior on display. I received a really great input form the Tanker Association which provided a lot of additional information about the specific aircraft and how it was one of only two remaining out of 112 which were converted.

It is good to pause for a moment and remember. So many men and women have gone before us it is easy to forget the sacrifices they both they and their families made to bring us to where we are today.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO
   (Home of the next Super Bowl Champions!)


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