During the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to witness the amazing transformation of a former Vietnam warbird – scheduled for a trip to the metal crusher before the Palm Springs Air Museum rescued the combat-tested fighter bomber from and inglorious end.
The aircraft, on loan from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, was hauled to the museum in August, and since then, numerous volunteers and countless hours have been poured into the restoration of the aircraft.
The aircraft made its debut on Friday during an intimate gathering at the museum on Friday. Its public premiere was on Saturday.
On Monday, on the occasion of Veterans Day, The Desert Sun will feature a front page story about the rescue and renovation of the aircraft and the two formerF-105D pilots – Ret. U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Kirk of Anthem, Ariz. and Ret. U.S. Air Force Lt. Gordon Jenkins of Indio – who were honored by the air museum.
The Republic F-105D Thunderchief flew the majority of strike bombing missions during the war and suffered heavy losses in the process.
Just over 800 F-105s were manufactured and nearly half of those were lost in combat during the Vietnam War.
“A lot of guys that were captured or killed there came out of this airplane,” Fred Bell, the museum’s managing director said. “It was the only aircraft ever to withdraw because of combat losses.