Thunderbird History (another piece for those care)

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Meathook

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Unread post26 Feb 2010, 23:28

Thunderbird History Event - War Bird - 1988

It was 1988; the USAF Thunderbirds were tasked by Gen Robert Russ, who was Tactical Air Commander (TAC) at the time, to put one of our Thunderbird aircraft into combat configuration in the allotted (mandated) 72 hour period, a task never done before on the team or done since to my knowledge.

To make a long story short, the maintenance men and women, worked their backsides off, had the aircraft ready in less than 72 hours, with the only exception being that the jet wasn’t painted (in the traditional combat scheme). The aircraft tail number selected for this event was Thunderbird Number 10 which was 81-0679.

A couple of interesting facts in this event, the aircraft originally came to the team from the factory (I don’t know that date) painted in Thunderbird colors when it later left our organization in combat gray only to be returned to us from Hill AFB again repainted with Thunderbird Red, White, and Blue to be used during the training/show season of 1990.

For the 1990 Show Season that aircraft had been assigned to Thunderbird Crew Chief, TSgt. Dave Kramer and his Assistant Crew Chief who was a Hydraulic troop named SSgt. Mark Thome (Number Two in the Diamond). A couple of years later it (aircraft) left again along with all of the other "A" models and it would be assigned to a Singapore unit at Luke AFB (training organization). It (tail number 81-0679) still remains the only Thunderbird aircraft to be painted combat gray and Thunderbird colors twice!

Funny enough, the nickname "Warbird" came about when someone (still unknown from within the team, who was possibly assigned to this conversion tasking) used their finger and wrote the word "Warbird in the gun residue while it sat in the hangar after its historic flight, the name “War Bird” stuck with the team and was used when the event was reported back to TAC/HQ. TSgt. Dave Kramer had made some “plates” to attach inside the cockpit that were later mounted on plaques for SSgt Mark Thome and Steve Henderson (there were many others whose names I can’t all remember helped greatly in this project). The plaques stated "Warbird, Second to None" because of it flying in the number 2 position of the Diamond.

Major BJ Java (our Logistic Officer, Vietnam Vet pilot), who was #7 at the time, flew the jet, shot bullets and dropped bombs. The jet looked awesome being red, white and blue with a gun, bombs, missiles, and ECM pod fully functional. Thunderbird Msgt Charlie Saunders remembers being on the ramp when the jet returned from its sortie and BJ had that “big ‘ol grin on his face”. The jet was a mess with all the gun gases (soot) that had stuck to that beautiful paint job, we (the team collectively) made Thunderbird history that day. Line Chief that year was my good buddy SMSgt Dennis Graham nicked named "COB".

A picture of the jet flying overhead on the departure end loaded with four (captive) AIM-9P, six (live) BSU-49 500lb (retarded) bombs, and an ECM pod on the Centerline is provided. The pilot signed this photo after the historical event.

We soon made history again in 1989 when I was Swing Shift Pro-Super, it was the first time an aircraft was never left behind at a show site, we repaired them all in time to take off all at once (as we always try to do). I had a hell'va crew and great team, sadly not much is ever mentioned of that history making event so I thought I would include it here with this other amazing feat.
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Last edited by Meathook on 27 Feb 2010, 00:09, edited 2 times in total.
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Meathook

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Unread post26 Feb 2010, 23:31

More photos of that amazing event....War Bird 1988
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Photo~8.JPG
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War Bird '880001.JPG
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Raptor_DCTR

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Unread post26 Feb 2010, 23:40

Pretty damn cool Meat! I love reading history like that, specially when it involves Vipers! Thanks for sharing!
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vegasdave901

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Unread post26 Feb 2010, 23:51

Kinda hard to tell, but all the pylons are in Light Ghost Gray not white, correct? Was it easy to clean the gun residue since the paint job was glossy?
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Meathook

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Unread post27 Feb 2010, 00:07

Yes to both questions, that gloss paint made a huge difference to cleaning, that and Windex made the job much easier, thanks for looking.

Raptor, so much happens in Vegas that is often over looked, I loved both of my assignments there - Thanks
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Raptor_DCTR

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Unread post27 Feb 2010, 00:22

Well if you have any more stories like that I'd love to hear them
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Meathook

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Unread post27 Feb 2010, 04:08

OK, let me give it some thought, there were so many crazy exciting things, it is hard to narrow them down but these two were stand alone events for sure that came right to mind.
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Scorpion1alpha

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Unread post07 Mar 2010, 18:14

I never knew that. Enjoyed reading the recollection. Maybe you guys should've had either Boss fly #10 or maybe slot or one of the solos to show off the "go-to-war" look.

LOL!
I'm watching...
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tbarlow

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Unread post07 Mar 2010, 19:28

That's putting some "Thunder" in a Thunderbird!
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Meathook

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Unread post07 Mar 2010, 21:10

Roger that :thumb:
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Roscoe

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Unread post08 Mar 2010, 05:57

Imagine a flight of bad guys hitting the merge and seeing their adversaries all painted in the T-Bird Red, White, and Blue. I'm sitting here laughing thinking what would be going through their mind...
Roscoe
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USAF Test Pilot School 92A

"It's time to get medieval, I'm goin' in for guns" - Dos Gringos
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tbarlow

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Unread post08 Mar 2010, 06:33

Just think of the look on the bad guys face when he realizes the "Smokewinder" just came off the rail! :shock:
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TC

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Unread post08 Mar 2010, 06:35

It's difficult enough to do ANYTHING operations related within a 72 hour window. To take this aircraft, with the exception of the paint and have it ready to do its intended job within that period of time is very impressive. IIRC, didn't the Thunderbirds receive an AFOUA for this, among other things within that time span?
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jokes81

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Unread post08 Mar 2010, 06:52

How come all the Thunderbird maintainers are worthless once they go back into circulation? They have all the stories of all the work they've ever done, but I've never seen it.
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JoeSambor

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Unread post08 Mar 2010, 11:46

Are you having a bad day or did you apply and not make the cut? You need to show a little respect.

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Joe Sambor
LM Aero Field Service Engineer
Woensdrecht Logistics Center, The Netherlands
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