April 29, 2008 (by Jon Somerville) - It appears that F-16A #78-0061 has been assigned civil registry N324DC. It is highly unlikely that this aircraft is being used by Lockheed-Martin or NASA. So who owns this aircraft?
F-16A #78-0061 when it was used for BDRT with the Alabama ANG.
Although it has not been exactly determined at this point who owns USAF serial #78-0061
, but there is one possible company. Air Capitol Warbirds LLC in Newton, Kansas had acquired two unusual fast jets making history as the first true private owners of an F-16 and an F/A-18A. The history of the F/A-18 is well known. It is BuNo 161973 and at one time was the lead aircraft for the Blue Angles.
, one of the very first early F-16s ever manufactured, has had a long history but has only ever served with two units. Its first assignment was at MacDill AFB
, Florida with the 61st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron where it became an aircraft to train pilots in the F-16. Logically with its serial ending in 61, it was chosen to be the flag ship aircraft for the 61st TFTS. Around October of 1988 the aircraft moved to the Alabama ANG
where it served under the 160th TFS/FS till around May of 1994. It remained with the Alabama ANG but for ground instruction for Battle Damage Repair Training (BDRT). From there it went to the Anniston Alabama Army National Guard training site where it is believed to be display as a preserved aircraft.
A client is said to have placed a $100,000 deposit on the Air Capitol Warbirds F-16. But it is important to note that this is only speculation that the F-16 owned by Air Capital Warbirds is aircraft #78-0061
. What is clear is that Air Capital Warbirds will sell the aircraft, either as it is or as restored. F-16A #78-0061
with civil registry N324DC is not the first F-16 to carry civil registration but looks like it is the first outside of major organizations such as NASA
and Lockheed-Martin. Where this F-16 will end up at this point is a complete mystery.
The wreckage of F-16C #89-2110
is also owned by Air Capitol Warbirds. It was written-off in a mishap on April 24, 1992 and later went through Hurricane Andrew while stored at Homested AFB, Florida. They took possession of this airframe in 2002. It is questionable if this airframe will be restored. Perhaps will be used for spare parts. It is only speculation, but logical to take two aircraft to rebuild one.
I took the liberty to contact Air Capitol Warbirds LLC, where thanks to Kirby Duffy, I learned a lot. First of all Kirby, President & CEO of Fulcrum Inc., advised that Air Capitol Warbirds (ACW) and Fulcrum Inc. have no association any longer. Fulcrum Inc. began to go there own way on September 7, 2001 but are still located in Wichita, Kansas. Air Capitol Warbirds closed its doors on September 11, 2001 and its web site, which is still going, has put the domain name up for sale.
Kirby points out that the F-16 was the first major acquisition and their interest in that aircraft was released in the corporate separation with Air Capitol Warbirds and therefore no longer own any F-16s. Later ACW attained an F-18, which was more appealing as it was more complete than the F-16. It is unclear what has happened to the F-16 that was previously owned by ACW.
"Fulcrum Inc. still remains in the aviation marketing business and has recently acquired a fleet of supersonic fighters with associated parts. We still have access to F-16 projects and parts, but let me assure you that the amount of money that it would require is quite substantial," Kirby advised.
When pressed further about new acquisitions, Kirby advised that at this time it is privileged information, but that they do not include any F-16s. Judging from the photos that Kirby has provided, it looks unlikely that this former ACW F-16 will be restored in the short-term future. Some of the photos provided are below.
Kirby points out that if Art Neils can restore and fly a Sea Harrier (www.nallsaviation.com) that an F-16 would be much more feasible and sooner or later there will be an F-16 flying as a warbird. Any serious contenders that would like to operate an F-16 are free to contact Kirby and remember that if you have to ask how much, well, best just not to ask.