Scott Air Force Base announced several aerial performances that will help celebrate its 100th Birthday during the open house and airshow slated for June 10-11.
The Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team, the Black Daggers, will start off the sequence of events as they descend two miles from the skies and land with pin-point precision at show center.
Although they are capable of performing both high-altitude, low-opening and high-altitude, high-opening jumps, the principle technique demonstrated by the Black Daggers is the HALO. This form of stealth insertion used to land troops and equipment behind enemy lines was first conducted in combat during the Vietnam War by the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group, a multiservice U.S. special operations unit in which Army Special Forces played a large role.
After exiting an aircraft at high altitudes, sometimes upwards of 25,000 feet, where oxygen is scarce, the jumpers fall to the earth, reaching terminal velocity before deploying their parachutes and gliding in under enemy radar.
The Black Daggers use the military variant of the ram-air parachute. These flexible-wing gliders allow a free-fall parachutist the ability to jump with more than 100 pounds of additional equipment attached to him. In addition to the extra weight, the jumper must also withstand high winds, frigid temperatures and low oxygen levels, all of which require the jumper to be highly skilled.
‘TORA, TORA, TORA’
Among the aerial performance teams is “Tora, Tora, Tora” a Commemorative Air Force’s recreation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that signaled the beginning of the American involvement in World War II. Designed as a living history lesson, “Tora, Tora, Tora” is intended as a memorial to all the soldiers on both sides who gave their lives for their countries.
The pilots and crew of “Tora, Tora, Tora” are proud of the reputation they have developed with veterans of the Japanese military as an accurate lesson on the history of the time and as a tribute to themselves and their comrades. Over the years, “Tora, Tora, Tora” has brought both American and Japanese veterans together to celebrate the spirit of cooperation the two nations have enjoyed for more than 50 years.
At air shows throughout the country, Japanese veterans living, working, and visiting in this country have had an opportunity to meet with the Tora group and join with American veterans in a spirit of brotherhood and friendship that only former servicemen can experience.
CURTIS JENNY JN-4
Since early man looked to the heavens and watched birds fly, he’s been captivated by the possibilities. As the 20th century dawned, the dream of powered flight became a reality. And with that reality, the airplane was born. It would carry passengers to distant locations in an efficient manner that defied previous limitations. And the military learned quickly that the “Knights of the Air” would provide a distinct advantage to their military strategies. To accomplish this, they needed just the right type of aircraft to train their pilots. The Curtis Jenny fulfilled that need.
The competition among early airplane manufacturers to deliver training airplanes to the Army was tough and included the world famous Wright brothers. The impetus for the design of the Curtis JN-4, began with an Army requirement for a tractor-type (engine and propeller in front) aircraft.
The Army’s reasoning was simple: in a crash, the rear-mounted pusher engines moved forward, crushing and killing pilots at an alarming rate.
When the war ended, hundreds of Army-trained pilots returned home, determined to continue flying as civilians. But there were few commercially-built planes available, and none available at a price that most of the returning airmen could afford. None ... except the Jenny!
Thousands of them were crammed into government warehouses and sitting on flying fields. There were also thousands of extra OX-5 engines and spare parts. In 1919, these were declared surplus and offered for sale to private individuals. Thus the golden Age of American Aviation began. The era known as “Barnstorming” took flight.
The Curtis Jenny was used to sell many Americans “their first airplane ride,” while others were used in wild flying stunts. Although the whole business was rather haphazard, the barnstormers performed an important function. They kept aviation in the public eye during the lean years following the war and in general, introduced the whole country to private and commercial flying.
JN-4 Jennys were flown at what was then Scott Air Field from 1918-21 and were one of the first aircraft configured to fly patients, thus forging the dawn of aeromedical evacuation, a mission that Scott AFB still performs today.
Another aircraft with historical ties to the base is the P-51 Mustang, flown at Scott from 1952-1953. The P-51 Mustang is an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and other conflicts. The Mustang was designed in 1940 by North American Aviation in response to a requirement of the British Purchasing Commission.
It was first flown operationally by the RAF as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and fighter-bomber. The addition of the Rolls-Royce Merlin to the P-51B/C model dramatically improved the Mustang’s performance at altitudes above 15,000 feet, allowing the aircraft to compete with Luftwaffe’s fighters. The definitive version, the P-51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 two-stage two-speed supercharged engine, and was armed with six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2/AN Browning machine guns.
From late 1943, P-51Bs and Cs (supplemented by P-51Ds from mid-1944) were used to escort bombers in raids over Germany. They were also used by Allied Air Forces in the North African, Mediterranean, Italian and Pacific theaters. During World War II, Mustang pilots claimed to have destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft.
At the start of the Korean War, the Mustang was the main fighter of the United Nations until jet fighters, including the F-86, took over this role; the Mustang then became a specialized fighter-bomber. Despite the advent of jet fighters, the Mustang remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s. After the Korean War, Mustangs became popular civilian warbird and air racing aircraft.
Made famous by the Vietnam War, the MiG-17F was the primary enemy aircraft engaged in the skies over Vietnam by U.S. aircraft, such as the A-4, A-7, F-8, B-52, F-100, F-105 and its primary nemesis, the F-4 Phantom II.
During that war and up until the F-16 entered service, it was the tightest-turning fighter in the world. When production started in the 1950s, its VK-1F engine made it one of the first production jet fighters in the world with an afterburner. The MiG-17F could carry bombs, rockets, or extra fuel tanks under its wings. In its lower nose it carried some of the largest guns ever used for air-to-air combat—two 23mm canons and one 37mm cannon.
The MiG-17F was a very nimble fighter that could prove deadly unless respected when engaged by pilots with superior training and tactics such as those used by the U.S. Navy and Air Force. One moment’s complacency when fighting against the MiG-17F could prove fatal. It was flown by over 20 countries, three of which still fly it.
The “Acemaker” was first flown in the late 1940’s with its last example not retiring from active Air Force duty until late 1980’s, giving it a service life of over 40 years.
It was used for advanced jet fighter training up until the introduction of the Northrop T-38 Talon. T-33’s were used by both the Air Force and Navy in roles ranging from flight training, tactical work and even as the aircraft of choice for the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. It was also exported to practically every NATO country in the world.
SCOTT AFB AIRCRAFT
Along with these performers, Scott’s own aircraft will be flying the skies or conducting aerial demonstrations. The C-21 Learjet, owned by the 375th Air Mobility Wing, and the C-40 aircraft, owned by the 932nd Airlift Wing (Reserve) both serve as senior leader transport throughout the world. The KC-135 Stratotanker, owned by the 126th Air Refueling Wing (IL ANG), is a mainstay of the Air Force’s strategic aerial refueling fleet. It’s a military version of the 1950’s era 707 commercial passenger jet.
Headlining the flying demonstrations will be the USAF Thunderbirds, showcasing the pride and precision of today’s Air Force. They are the Air Force’s official demonstration team, and they travel throughout the world, conducting aerial performances to show the pride, professionalism and dedication of the members of the Air Force.
In 1947, while the jet age was still in its infancy, military aviation was hurtled into the future with the creation of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service. Just six years later, on May 25, 1953, the Air Force’s official air demonstration team, designated the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit, was activated at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The unit adopted the name “Thunderbirds,” influenced in part by the strong Native American culture and folklore from the southwestern United States where Luke Air Force Base is located. Today, their home is located at Nellis AFB, Nev.
A series of formation aerobatics, lasting a total of 15 minutes, comprised the original demonstration. The “solo” was not originally incorporated into the demonstration. However, as the season progressed, the team took opportunities to perform “solo” maneuvers with a spare aircraft.
During the open house and airshow, patrons will also have an opportunity to see and learn about numerous aircraft and missions when they visit the static displays.
Currently, the list is still being finalized and will be released when it is completed.