Monday, April 21, 2008

A Flying Thud?

It'll be a reality if the Collings Foundation has its way (h/t: Guidons Guidons Guidons):
Collings Foundation is a 501 (3) with some 40,000 donators. They collect, restore, maintain and fly vintage aircraft at air shows. They are a class act. One part of Collings is the Vietnam Memorial Flight currently consisting of an F-4D, TA-4J, and HU-1. Another is their Wings of Freedom Tour flying B-17, B-24, B-25 and P-51.It took them four years to work through the Air Force and AF Museum at Wright Patterson bureaucracy to get an F-4 Phantom II. It is the only civilian owned F-4 flying today in the world. There was and is no cost to the government to get, rehab and fly the F-4. It's fully funded by the Collings Foundation.

I've been asked by Bob Collings to help them get a F-105 Thud. Scattered around the country, mostly outside on static display, pedestals, et al, the Air Force has about a hundred F-105s, 96 non airworthy. Most are deteriorating due to weather and exposure. Collings Foundation would pay all cost to get a Thud, to get an engine, to rehab it to flyable condition, and the cost to fly it. Not one penny of government funds involved. When trying to get the F-4 excuses like liability, et al were used. None of the military / AF Museum arguments against letting go of an F-4 have become problems.

For all veterans of our era, to see a thud fly again would be a thrill; would be a living memorial. And it would be special memorial to the hundreds killed in the Thud, to we POW Thud drivers, and to all who flew and maintained it. According to Bob Collings (neat guy), a word from the Republican ranking member of the Senate Armed Forces committee would do wonders to shake loose just one F-105. I see no down side, but think there would be upside to John from the veteran Vietnam era community. I'm trying to get this letter to John McCain should know soon if it gets to him (he seems busy lately!) As a Thud Weasel guy, Bob Collings (Collings Foundation) asked me to help contact the F-105 community.

I'm sending this the Wild Weasel Society, River Rats and drop it into the NAMPOW listserve. I assume most Vietnam vets, and all Thud drivers / maintainers would support seeing a Thud fly again. Any and all support you can help with is great. Bob said to contact him for as much detail as you want or need to help get the ball rolling. The web site is on top of this doc, his email
This would be pretty dang sweet. The Thud was a man's airplane...