by Jeff Nash
Peterson Air And Space Museum
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — It’s taken a while, but the Peterson Air and Space Museum’s F-101 “Voodoo” is coming in for a landing.
The aircraft will soon rest in a new display site at the intersection of Peterson Boulevard and Hamilton Street. Overlooking the Peterson AFB flight line, the location is very appropriate for this former Cold War defender of North American skies.
The McDonnell F-101 was first designed as a long-range bomber escort for the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command in the 1950s. But when high-speed, high-altitude jet bombers like the B-52 “Stratofortress” entered active service, escort fighters were not needed. So, before production began, the F-101’s design was changed to fill both tactical and air defense roles.
The first production F-101As entered service in May 1957 and the aircraft made their first flights in September 1954. By the time F-101 production ended in March 1961, McDonnell built 785 Voodoos, including 480 F-101Bs, the two-seat, all-weather interceptor used by the Air Force’s Air Defense Command.
The museum’s Voodoo, serial number 58-274, was delivered to the Air Force in March 1960 and was first assigned to the 15th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. After a few years in the hot climate of the Sonoran Desert, Voodoo 274 moved to the northern tier of the United States with the 13th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Glasgow AFB, Mont., in June 1964. There it stood guard against potential Cold War attacks by bombers from the Soviet Union.
While at Glasgow, 274 equipped the 13th FIS team participating in the 1965 “William Tell” air defense competition at Tyndall AFB, Fla. In June 1968, 274 moved on to equip the 63rd FIS at K. I. Sawyer AFB, Mich. After a few years guarding the Great Lakes region, the aircraft headed to the warm weather and sunny beaches of Tyndall AFB in 1971, and an assignment to the Air Defense Weapons Center. 274 finally retired from the Air Force inventory in 1974 and came to Peterson AFB to become a “gate guard” at the base’s west entrance.
When the west gate was rebuilt in 2006, base officials made a decision to remove the aircraft from its perch and place it elsewhere on base, and the new display site was completed this year by the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron. The move and installation to the new site is scheduled for the near future when a contractor will repair, restore and repaint the aircraft. Aircraft 274 will be repainted in the colors and markings of the 13th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, reliving its glory days as a first-line, tip-of-the-spear protector of America nearly 50 years ago.
A display sign will tell the story of this warrior and those like it.