Memory Joggers From Jack Blair


The F-111 came to Takhli to serve in March 1968.  The Combat Lancer program was the first use of this new aircraft in a live combat role.  With ground terrain following radar, it was hoped it would prove ideal for night and bad weather missions.  Its swing-wing design allowed for takeoffs with heavy loads on shorter runways.  Jack's photos here show the arrival ceremonies for the first group of aircraft.  Unfortunately it did not live up to expectations.  The results of this initial deployment will be shown on another page.  But the arrival was with much ballyhoo.  

  The dignitaries for the arrival occasion included General Ryan, the commander of Pacific Air Forces (lt) and Col Giraudo, the 355th Tactical Fighter Wind commander (rt).

After a long ferry across the Pacific from Nellis AFB the F-111 touches down on the Takhli runway.


The band played and the flags waved as the troops basked in the warm sunshine on the ramp.  Actually it was probably over 100 degrees on this pavement, from which the glare could produce sunburn on the bottom of your chin.  But the men did their duty. 

Takhli turned out for this occasion, probably the most formal ceremony of this scale during my year there.  Pilots wore their "party" flightsuits.  Uniformed and non-uniformed troops came out to see the new aircraft.


The hospitality welcome float was opened.  Suitable beverages were dispensed to alleviate the heat, and the festivities continued for some time. 

And here it was, the twin engine swing-wing.  This aircraft had a very controversial history already by the time it arrived at Takhli.  It was a compromise between Air Force and Navy requirements.  It began missions almost immediately after arrival.  It would, unfortunately, end missions from Takhli much sooner than anyone anticipated.

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