A cold front came through leaving in it’s wake gusty winds and an Airmet for moderate turbulence, the kind that can bounce you around during a cross country. There was no pressing need to make today’s flight. DUATS and a call to the flight service station gave indications that the flight should be scrubbed. A reasoned decision was made and before long, the plane was pointed to Grissom Air Force Base. Grissom was recently opened to the public at specific hours and was at the opposite end of three Military Operations Areas. (MOA).
Travelling above the heartland, I’m impressed how farmland spreads pretty much in all directions as far as the eye can see, at least once out of the Chicago area past the class B airspace. The upside to the monotony? In the event of an emergency, there were lots of options.
Grissom AFB was initially established as a Naval Air station for training (including the famous ball player Ted Williams). It later saw duty as an air base for the 319th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron equipped with the F106 Delta Dart. The Strategic Air Command (SAC) took control in 1957 and it became home to the 305th Bombardment Wing. During the cold war it hosted the B-47 Stratojet and later the more famous and sleek jet bomber, the B-58 Hustler. An F101 Voodoo was also featured. Interesting that it was equipped with only two missiles-no guns. The Air Genie air to air missile was an unguided nuclear missile designed to take down a Soviet nuclear armed plane. All it had to do was get close. Strange by today’s standards. Taking down an adversary plane with nuclear weapons. I hope that time has forever passed. The AFB is still known as the 305th but with the dissolution of the SAC, it became a refueling wing in 1970 as it remains today.
You can see some of the Air Force all time greats (and a few ugly ones like the T-37 tweety) if you make the ten minute walk to the museum. Highly recommended. If you don’t love history, you’ll still love the planes. When it comes to general aviation, it’s the journey. This time the destination was as good as the trip.
Not many veterans have flown both the F-4 and 0-2 in combat. Those intrepid few had these aircraft in which to fight. You can see the pylons for the “willie pete” under the Skymaster’s wings.