Vintage jet rides to new home

Vintage jet rides to new home

August 18th, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Hopkins, left, and Tech. Sgt. Scot Batie, members of the Tennessee Air National Guard, hold a rope as they help move a vintage F-101 Voodoo jet fighter Wednesday from the grounds of their former headquarters building at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport onto a flatbed truck. The jet that has been displayed at the airport since it was retired in 1982 will be displayed at the new headquarters of the 241st squadron on Bonny Oaks Drive.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.


* Intended as a long-range bomber escort for the Strategic Air Command, design changed to fill tactical and air defense roles.

* First flight was Sept. 29, 1954.

* When F-101 production ended in 1961, McDonnell had built 785.

* In reconnaissance versions, Voodoo was the world's first supersonic photo-reconnaissance aircraft and used for photo coverage of missile sites in 1962 Cuban Crisis and during late 1960s in Southeast Asia.

Source: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Bill Brown says his trucking company has moved a lot of stuff over the years, including a tank, but Wednesday was a first for him.

One of Brown's flat-bed trucks hauled a vintage F-101 Voodoo military jet fighter from its longtime home at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport to the Tennessee Air National Guard's new facility off Bonny Oaks Drive.

Maj. Marty Malone, detachment commander for the Guard's 241st Engineering Installation Squadron, said the 24,000-pound jet had been on static display outside the Guard's old headquarters off Airport Road since 1982.

Malone said he expected that the jet, which could carry a nuclear payload when operational, will be back on display at the Guard's new facility as soon as this weekend.

The U.S. Air Force's Voodoo jets went into service in 1954. The local Guard obtained its aircraft in June 1982 when the jet made its last flight from Niagara Falls, reportedly carrying an unidentified Air Force general making his final flight as well, Malone said.

Belonging to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio, the plane was refurbished in 1998, he said. The jet is likely due for another makeover next spring, Malone said. He declined to say how much the move cost, but said members of a maintenance squadron from Nashville came to Lovell Field to help.

"We're doing this cost-effectively," Malone said.

The Guard moved into its Bonny Oaks Drive facility late last year. Malone said plans are to undertake a cleanup of the old location and turn the 7.5-acre tract and buildings over to the airport.

Airport spokeswoman Christina Siebold said the Guard must secure an environmental release on the buildings before it can turn over the land. She said the schedule for that is unknown at this time.

Connect with the Times Free Press on Facebook