Miscellaneous Debris => Chit-Chat => Tell us a story... => Topic started by: wxtech on August 19, 2014, 01:18:47 PM

Title: The Last Flight of that F-105 Thunderchief
Post by: wxtech on August 19, 2014, 01:18:47 PM
I was stationed at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico 1978 - 1983.  http://www.kirtland.af.mil/ (http://www.kirtland.af.mil/)  I worked at the Base Weather Station as a Weather Equipment Technician.
Don't know what year this happened.  It was the hottest day of the year, 107F in the afternoon.
An F-105 Thunderchief was being ferried from its home base going into retirement at the aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona.  This fighters last mission had him stop at Kirtland for fuel or pilot rest. 
Somehow the hot temperature at the fighter planes' take off time didn't get considered for his power settings roll distance, etc.  The Albuquerque East-West runway was long enough for big or heavy planes.  So the runway length wasn't a restricting factor.  The airport altitude may have been higher than the pilot considered in his calculations.  At 5355 feet in Albuquerque/Kirtland AFB, the air is thinner and more thrust or roll distance is needed to get rotate airspeed.
The F-105 began a normal takeoff roll toward the east.  At some point the pilot knew he wasn't going to get airborne before the asphalt ended.  He cut power and used up the overrun, and he engaged the barrier at the end of the overrun.
The pilot wasn't hurt.  The F-105 wasn't damaged by the barrier.  The Thunderchief was parked on the Kirtland ramp for a long time.  Eventually it was configured for display and taken to the Atomic Museum which was then on Wyoming Blvd of Kirtland East.
The Nuclear Museum has since moved to Eubank Blvd and the F-105 never flew from Albuquerque.
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=311 (http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=311) 
So that Thunderchief saved itself from being shredded.  It is on display about a mile from the end of its last powered mission.
Title: Re: The Last Flight of that F-105 Thunderchief
Post by: DaleReid on August 19, 2014, 06:40:35 PM
a)  How did those things get off the ground fully fueled and loaded with ordinance in VietNam with high temps and high humidities?

Did you calculate the density altitude for the 107 degree day?

And when you reported temperatures, was it at a NWS approved site with grass and all or was it off the surface of the (much hotter) runways?  As a pilot I'd sort of like to know the temperature of the air my jet was sucking in and my wings flapping against.

Was there a temp of the runway available for the pilots?

b) Is the museum still accessible by civilians?  You said it moved.  I had the chance to visit when it was on base, after a major I knew gave me escort through the gate.  I would love to go through the museum again.

Thanks.  Dale
Title: Re: The Last Flight of that F-105 Thunderchief
Post by: wxtech on August 19, 2014, 11:53:38 PM
Kirtland Air Force Base shares runways with Albuquerque International Airport.  The weather instruments and observations are from the NWS station at the airport.  KAFB hasn't had a weather station for decades now.  Back when I was there, the base had the weather radar and some wind instruments.  And I supported several research sites at KAFB, the Air Force Weapons Lab, and Sandia National Labs.  The F-105 pilot was briefed at the KAFB wx station with data provided from NWS.
I think that most of Vietnam would be near sea level, Albuquerque is over a mile altitude. I remember seeing the fighter tangled in the catch netting at the end of the east overrun.  I had no involvement in the incident.
Until I moved from there in 2001, the National Atomic Museum was on the south end of Wyoming Blvd, on Kirtland Air Force Base.  Visitors needed to get a pass at the Wyoming gate to visit the museum.  Now the National Museum of Nuclear Science is tucked into the northeast corner of the base property on Eubank Blvd near Central Ave.  It is fully accessible to the public without going on base.
During my last days in Albuquerque 2001, I took lots of photos of the military hardware at the museum.  My first Air Force job was Weapons Fuzing Specialist.  That's milspeak for Nuclear Weapons Mechanic.  I worked on the Mace TM-76A tactical missile (like drones of today), and the Genie AIR-2A air-to-air rocket.
Something funny:  Denver claims to be the mile high city.  You drive downhill to Denver from Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  Santa Fe being 7000 feet altitude.
Title: Re: The Last Flight of that F-105 Thunderchief
Post by: corwyyn on August 20, 2014, 04:02:35 AM
Ah yes, I remember seeing that beauty on display a few times when I would go to the Atomic Museum.  I lived in the Albuquerque area from 1978 to 2000 and don't remember anything about that particular incident on the news so it must have been early to mid-70's.  And nice capture of the B-29 in the background of your picture  8-)
Title: Re: The Last Flight of that F-105 Thunderchief
Post by: Cutty Sark Sailor on August 20, 2014, 05:54:39 AM
a)  How did those things get off the ground fully fueled and loaded with ordinance in VietNam with high temps and high humidities?

Thanks.  Dale

If memory serves me correctly, lightly fueled, and tankers nearby...  ;)
Title: Re: The Last Flight of that F-105 Thunderchief
Post by: wxtech on August 20, 2014, 07:20:01 AM
It happened 1981, 1982 or 1983.  No way to remember the date.  I believe the Thunderchief capture wasn't much news.  Nothing damaged, nobody hurt.  It may have been considered a normal test of the restraining system.
Title: Re: The Last Flight of that F-105 Thunderchief
Post by: wxtech on August 21, 2014, 06:27:22 PM
Kirtland Air Force Base has a very interesting history.  When I arrived there in March 1978, it was 3 bases combining into one.  It had over 50,000 acres extending from Carlisle Blvd on the west into the mountains south of the 4 hills area east of Albuquerque.  Kirtland was once a base involved in the nuclear industry and it also served the Atomic Energy Commission.  The east side of now Kirtland was once 'Sandia Base' operated jointly by all mil branches over the years.  Sandia Base was home to Sandia National Labs.  Kirtland West is 5 miles from Kirtland East with the New Mexico Air National Guard between.  Albuquerque International Airport was west of Carlisle Blvd with the FAA tower on the south side of the main east-west runway.  Kirtland had 7 access gates for traffic from the South Gate near I-25 to the Eubank Gate.  Albuquerque's Carlisle Blvd south end was at the Base Operations Hangar.  Albuquerque's Wyoming Blvd went through the main east side base past Sandia National Labs and the Atomic Museum.  Just past the base brig, you'll see a large wooden Trestle.  It is big enough to park a B-52 on for nuclear electromagnetic pulse susceptablilty.  A few miles further on Wyoming, you pass the golf course, the horse stables, and a road to Manzano Base.  That's the place that had double security fences circling the mountain.  It's so large, you can see the fences from satellite maps.  It was underground storage tunnels carved into Manzano Mountain.  Now repurposed.  Pass by another road that leads to Coyote Canyon.  Sandia Labs and the Air Force Weapons Lab used that area for various explosive test projects.  Wyoming passes Thunder Wells where the Air Force researched ICBM missile silo concrete slab doors durability against blasts.  As you drive south on Wyoming you see the 'Solar Power Tower' with its large field of mirrors.  You'll find the road ends at an animal research facility.  The base had a very large number of civilian employees due to the labs.  The military functions were so varied, Kirtland was called the "Pentagon West".  The base had 5 military housing areas with more than 2000 homes and 3 Albuquerque city schools on base.  The "Rio Grande Navy" had a hangar and tested some systems on the White Sands range in southern New Mexico.  A large unit had C-130, UH-3, & UH-53 for rescue crew training.  KAFB is now much smaller with gates moved inward giving land to Fed and local government.  There are more hidden in plain sight like another Area 51 right in the city.