07.03.03, 17:46 #1KFF757
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Depot Says Goodbye To Last Two Phantom Jets
(Source: US Naval Air Systems Command; issued Mar. 4, 2003)
With the recent termination of the F-4 Program at the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Depot Cherry Point, it was time to say goodbye to the command’s last two operational Phantom jets.
On Jan. 16, manned by test pilot Rich Bryant and Executive Officer Col John Gumbel, the first of the two Phantoms climbed into the skies above Cherry Point and headed for the Pacific Missile Test Center (PMTC), Point Mugu, Calif. The second and last F-4 followed March 3, also manned by Bryant and Col Gumbel. At Point Mugu, the Phantoms will be flown initially in manned drone missions and later by remote control on the PMTC test range, and they will stay in use until they are shot down as targets.
Almost 42 years after the F-4 Program began, the two planes were brought out of storage and prepared for flight. They had been in a dehumidified storage environment for the past 12 years, and were originally brought to the depot to be used in the Navy’s drone program after the F-4 was replaced in the fleet by the F-14 Tomcat. When word came that the program would soon be discontinued, a streamlined crew of artisans from the QF-4S Rework and Modification Shop was formed to convert the planes to the drone configuration for transfer to Point Mugu.
“We brought the planes to the run-up shelter and checked all their systems to see if there were any problems,” Harry Britt, F-4 Aerospace Engineer, said. “Then, we brought them into the hangar to take care of any discrepancies and convert them into drones. We did all the gripe re-work and cockpit work, installed the special conversion wiring and electronics package, and did everything to make them into drones.”
The planes were then run through a series of ground checks and were taken on a number of test flights to ensure everything was functioning correctly.
“I’m sorry to see them go,” Britt said. “Their departure marks the end of an era for the depot.”
NAVAIR Depot Cherry Point provides maintenance, engineering, and logistics support on a variety of aircraft, engines, and components for all branches of the U.S. armed forces. Employing almost 4,000 people, the depot is the only source of repair within the continental United States for many jet and rotary wing engines. It is the Navy’s center of excellence for rotary wing aircraft, providing engineering and logistics support for all Navy helicopters.
NAVAIR provides advanced warfare technology through the efforts of a seamless, integrated, worldwide network of aviation technology experts.
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