From my friend Brooks Wachtel…
I received an amazing holiday gift the day after Christmas thanks to Ian L. Sitren who arranged for me to meet Fred Bell, the director of the Palm Springs Air Museum. It’s not often a writer gets rock-star treatment, but that’s what the Museum staff – all fans of DogFights – gave me.
I found, to my delight, that the museum even run segments of the series on monitors in front of some of their display aircraft to illustrate the warbird’s stories.
One of the treats was seeing this Phantom, in Midway livery, that we depicted in “Mig Killers of the Midway” an episode I wrote with Cynthia Harrison-Wallach.
We interviewed most of the aviators whose names are emblazoned on the aircraft and brought their combat to life – they were responsible for both the first the very last MIG kill of the Vietnam War.
Here’s Fred Bell and I in front of the F-4 Phantom (thank you, Ian, for the photo). Fred and his staff do a fantastic job and I highly recommend the museum for any fan of history or aviation. They have an amazing collection and it keeps getting better.
For the curious, I’ve included the DogFights episode thanks to the inevitable youtube link:
Just top it off with a quart of oil and good to go! Ok maybe not. Just brought in to the Palm Springs Air Museum yesterday morning. This is a Grumman F9F Panther. The Panther was the U.S. Navy’s first successful carrier based jet aircraft. It was also the aircraft of the Blue Angels from 1949 – 1954. There were 1,382 built and today it is a very rare aircraft. It will go through extensive renovation at the Air Museum and before too will be on display looking like the day it came off the assembly line.
I did some online searching and found what may be a photo (below) of this actual aircraft on board a carrier during the Korean War. It is in the VF-821 Fighter Squadron and may have been on the USS Princeton and the USS Essex. It certainly looks like it was damaged. The photograph below that is an intact Panther on the USS Midway in 1952. I find that photo pretty exciting because I was a photographer onboard the Midway when she was decommissioned and brought into San Diego Harbor where she is today as a Museum.