WARNER ROBINS -- Another jet fighter that took a pounding and limped back from combat with holes and stressed parts rolled into the Museum of Aviation on Monday.
For retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard the F-100D wasn’t just an old bucket of bolts, flaps and hydraulic lines -- it was a lifesaver, an aircraft he flew in Vietnam. He saluted the Super Sabre as it was delivered on a flatbed truck, with wings detached and lined up beside the fuselage.
“The F-100 wasn’t a very forgiving aircraft when it came to flight. It took some work to fly, but we used it pretty effectively in Vietnam attacking the enemy and supporting our own troops in combat,” Goddard said. “This one’s pretty special to me.”
Goddard found information on the plane online recently, and saw that it was on display in Massachusetts, he said.
“From there, I began the process of talking to the museum about being able to bring it here for display,” said Goddard, who helmed the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center from 1997-2000.
Even with combat abuse, the sleek fighter had a different look in flight over Southeast Asia -- mean, swathed in green and beige camouflage paint.
Goddard flew this particular F-100D on a variety of combat missions 180 times, attacking targets in Vietnam and Laos, he said.
“That’s just it. This was the one that brought me home. This F-100 took abuse from me while flying it, and also from ground fire. It’s always special making that kind of landing in this kind of aircraft,” Goddard said.
Goddard flew 227 combat missions from October 1968 to October 1969 while flying with the 309th Tactical Fighter Squadron out of Tuy Hoa Air Base, in Vietnam.
Bob Dubiel, museum marketing director, said the jet would take up to 18 months to restore and place on display.
“It’s got a fair amount of corrosion. It’s been on display, outside at Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts, for more than 30 years. It’s taken a pounding from the elements,” Dubiel said.
“We plan an extensive restoration and to paint it in the Vietnam era paint scheme.”
Ultimately, the jet will be displayed in the aviation museum’s Hangar One, which houses several Vietnam-era aircraft exhibits.
Fighter pilots develop a close, almost mythical, relationship with their aircraft, even while flying through peaceful skies, and the ones flown in combat are put on a higher pedestal, Goddard said.
“You want to display the aircraft that flew in combat. As a museum you want the ones that have the history,” Goddard said.
“Training is critical, crucial to the mission, but aircraft that have flown the actual mission are just prizes to be kept. That’s what the public wants to view.”
To contact writer Shelby G. Spires, call 744-4494.