CONVAIR F106 DELTA DART AIR DEFENSE INTERCEPTOR
[UPDATED: 26 Sep 99]
In the mid 1950s a unique, delta-winged, Mach II aircraft--known as 'The Ultimate Interceptor'--took to the air for the first time at Edwards AFFTC in the Mojave desert. This culmination of years of work by Convair and the United States Air Force, and stemming from original aeronautical design innovations of Germany's Alexander Lippisch, was to become the mainstay of American continental air defense for nearly 30 years.
The 'Six' is generally regarded by those who flew her and took care of her myriad complexities as one of the most aesthetically beautiful aircraft designs ever to come off a drafting board; this website intends to serve as a future focal point for all who regard the "Sexy Six" as the 'Class of the Century Series' fighters.
Although this site is presently under construction, much is planned for these web pages, including explorations of the Six's history, service life, electronics, egress, powerplant, weapons systems, specifications, and modifications. Additionally, there will be personal accounts by former Six pilots on what it was like to fly this beautiful, if demanding, beast, and comments on what it took to keep the Six combat ready.
A comprehensive history of this fascinating aircraft is presently in progress; it is intended to be published eventually as a hardcover book that will fill a conspicuous gap in available reference works on this most interesting and formidable expression of Century Series aircraft developments.
Your contributions, comments, photographs, and former experiences with the 'Six' are sought and welcomed! (Especially welcome is contact with former 5th FIS personnel who flew and maintained the Six during those frigid North Dakota winters that I experienced at MAFB in 1966-67.)
Almost 2/3rds (approximately 199 aircraft) of all the Sixes produced were converted to QF106 aerial target drones under the 'Pacer Six' Program, with most being expended by the 82 ATRS at Tyndall AFB (Florida). In the course of active operations QF106 drone ops, which extended to January of 1998, there were only a handful of flyable survivors (reports vary from 2 to 5) which are now back at AMARC (D-MAFB, AZ); see lists below for more details. There were a few non-flying airframes left on the Tyndall ramp at the end of the 'Pacer Six' Program (7 aircraft), as well, and as of this time they are still on the ramp although in unflyable condition. NASA also continues to use the Six (two) in flight test operations at Edwards AFFTC in California (Eclipse Project) .
A list of tail numbers of the Pacer Six drone conversions is available, as is a list of the expended drones and their individual fates, for anyone wishing to know the final disposition of their particular A/C. For a complete list of QF106A/B aircraft (cross indexed by AD, FN and their service tail numbers), call us (we can fax it, if you wish).
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In Oct 98 we received news (from a USAF F4 pilot who had flown one of the drone-converted QF4 Phantoms in to Tyndall) that the seven non-flyable QF106 survivors left over at the end of the Pacer Six drone program had in fact met an inglorious end by being dumped into the Gulf waters. In Nov 98 we were in touch with the 82nd ATS people and found out that this is completely untrue. The good news: The seven QF106 survivors were in fact sitting there on the ramp with their 'feet' dry, exactly where they were last throttled down after their final target flights. They are indeed non-flyable, but entirely intact (one had a hard landing and sustained some gear damage, the others managed to make it to the end of the program more or less intact, but with severe structural problems involving the main wing spar, etc.). These seven aircraft were consigned to pending DRMS sales status and came up for bid as salvage aluminum. The 7 survivor aircraft are: F106B, SN 57-2517; F106B, SN 57-2509; F106B, SN 57-2543; F106B, SN 57-2545 (this is an ex-5th FIS aircraft, last based at Minot AFB, ND--'my' old squadron); F106A, SN 59-0047; F106A, SN 59-0048 (ex-New Jersey ANG, 119th FIS, shown in the illustration above); and F106A, SN 59-0105. Many of us were concerned about the fact that these fascinating and historic cold-war warriors--of which so few had been made--were about to be recycled into Coca-Cola cans and gum wrappers. Fortunately, a Texas entrepeneur negotiated for purchase of the machines, hoping to preserve most of them for air museum display and planning to restore one to flyable status. This plan ran into predictable turbulence and negotiations stalled over 'demil' requirements. Currently still stalled, the project is at present uncertain. But at least there remains a chance that these aircraft will be spared the ignoble fate of ending up as recycled aluminum.
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It has always struck me as fitting that there should be an F106 on permanent display at McClellan Air Force Base's Aviation Museum (Sacramento, California), in view of the importance that that SALC facility played in keeping the Sixes in top combat readiness throughout their service lives in ADC and TAC. Formerly, Air Force Museum personnel stated that they had no intention of complying with this request--presumably due to the uncertain tenure of the base's aviation museum when the base finally closes for good in 2000. However, now that the McClellan Aviation Museum Foundation has succeeded in guaranteeing the independent autonomy of that museum after USAF closes McClellan's doors, this is no longer a valid justification for not taking steps to save one of the surviving Sixes for permanent exhibit there!
If anyone out there has any ideas on how to go about securing a Delta Dart for McClellan AFB's Aviation Museum, PLEASE let us have your ideas. McClellan Aviation Museum President Colonel Chris Russo (USAF, Ret., who is a former McClellan AFB Commander and F111 pilot) needs your support and help to let it be known that Sacramento needs its own Six! Contact the McClellan Aviation Museum at (916) 643-3192.
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ANOTHER NOTE: DRMS currently had two F106 airframes listed on its website as being up for bid on 8 Dec 98. No word as to the completeness of these airframes but interested parties should make immediate inquiries (warbird restoration? museum display?). Details follow: LOCATION = San Antonio, Texas; DESCRIPTION = Airframe, Aircraft, F106; QUANTITY = 2; FSC number = 1560; NIIN = 009796690; DISPOSAL TURN-IN DOCUMENT NUMBER = SC440281610N03; CONDITION = A2 (serviceable, unissued, etc.); CATALOGUE NUMBER = 31-9312; ITEM NUMBER = 0172; BID OPENING DATE = 8 Dec 98.
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DATED: July 99. Have just been informed of the availability of a limited number of Weber rocket ejection seats removed from F106A & B aircraft (probably no more than 3 or so). These seats are in very good overall condition with seat & shoulder restraints (HBU-4/P automatic release belts), left side pressure suit exhaust hose, and BA-24 (ballistic deployment) personal back-style chute-actuation lanyard connector. (The proper F106 type PN 140000-24/24A seat survival kits are not included with these seats.) There aren't more than a handful of these seats available anywhere, nor is it expected that there will be in future, as most of the 192 QF106A/B drones were destroyed along with their seats in the recently concluded PACER SIX remotely flown target program. Interested parties should contact Manual "Bob" Niemann at firstname.lastname@example.org in Texas for details.
Have also been informed of a rare ergonometric cockpit instrument panel simulation module (mock-up) that was used by Convair San Diego in their early design researches on favorable instrument placement in Six production cockpits. The trainer features a real Six windscreen and canopy (early 'spined' model), is about 1000# in weight and may be trailered without too much difficulty. Also included is a Weber rocket ejection seat (as used from early 60s onwards). This is a rare and most interesting item that I would like to see acquired by an aviation museum for possible display in a Six exhibit. Interested individuals please contact me for more information on this item or contact [email@example.com] directly. Unit is located in Southern California.
F106A/B aircraft on display across the country as of 24 Dec 98:
SN 56-0451, F106A....Selfridge AFB, MI (painted as SN 59-0082).
SN 56-0454, F106A....Holloman AFB, NM ("HO")
SN 56-0459, F106A....McCord AFB, WA (318th FIS)
SN 56-0460, F106A....Minot AFB, ND (5th FIS)
SN 57-2492, F106A....Great Falls, MT (186th FIS)
SN 57-2515, F106B....Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ (B-1B Chase Plane)
SN 57-2516, F106B....Hampton Air Space Museum, VA (NASA)
SN 57-2523, F106B....Atlantic City IAP, NJ (177th FIS, ANG)
SN 57-2533, F106B....Kelly AFB, TX (159th FIS)
SN 57-0230, F106A....Jacksonville IAP, FL (159th FIS)
SN 58-0787, F106A....Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (49th FIS)
SN 59-0003, F106A....Pima Air/Space Museum, AZ (5th FIS--"Balls 3!")
SN 59-0023, F106A....Dover AFB, DE (95th FIS)
SN 59-0069, F106A....Griffiss AFB, NY
SN 59-0134, F106A....Peterson Museum, CO
SN 59-0145, F106A....Tyndall AFB, FL
SN 59-0146, F106A....Fresno Air Terminal, CA (194th FIS, ANG)
SN XX-xxxx, F106.....Andrews AFB, MD (status, details unkn.)
SN XX-xxxx, F106x....Charlston AFB, SC (status, details unkn.)
SN XX-xxxx, F106x....Selfridge City Park, MI (status, details unkn.)
F106A/B aircraft in storage status as of 24 Dec 98:
SN 56-0461, F106A, FN074, arrival 02 Apr 85, location=200901
SN 57-2510, F106B, FN048, arrival 04 Apr 84, location=200902
SN 57-2513, F106B, FN202, arrival 02 Dec 93, location=Display
SN 57-2514, F106B, FN161, arrival 23 Nov 87, location=200906
SN 58-0774, F106A, FN206, arrival 04 Mar 98, location=19SHOLD, AD146
SN 58-0793, F106A, FN204, arrival 23 Feb 98, location=19SHOLD, AD242
SN 58-0903, F106B, FN046, arrival 03 Apr 84, location=201001
SN 58-0904, F106B, FN044, arrival 02 Apr 84, location=200905
SN 59-0003, F106A, FN070, arrival 24 Jan 85, location=Pima A/S Mus.
SN 59-0010, F106A, AXNE0001, arr. 12 May 98, location=EAFFTC, AD246
SN 59-0012, F106A, FN077, arrival 03 Apr 85, location=200908
SN 59-0043, F106A, FN207, arrival 04 Mar 98, location=19SHOLD, AD227
SN 59-0065, F106A, FN003, arrival 25 Feb 82, location=180707
SN 59-0079, F106A, FN013, arrival 07 Jul 83, location=180708
SN 59-0086, F106A, FN100, arrival 04 Sep 85, location=201002
SN 59-0095, F106A, FN089, arrival 21 May 85, location=210005
SN 59-0115, F106A, FN004, arrival 05 Mar 82, location=200904
SN 59-0130, F106A, AXNE0002, arr. 12 May 98, location=19SHOLD, AD152
SN 59-0137, F106A, FN062, arrival 16 Oct 84, location 200903
SN 59-0147, F106A, FN017, arrival 17 Oct 83, location=200907
SN 59-0158, F106B, FN205, arrival 23 Feb 98, location=19SHOLD, AD275
SN 59-0164, F106B, FN050, arrival 04 Apr 84, location=201008
UPDATE--UPDATE-UPDATE-UPDATE..4 FEB 99..UPDATE--UPDATE--UPDATE--UPDATE
SPECIAL HELP REQUESTED: Engineer Ernest White (Boeing Co.) was spearheading (as of 2/99) an effort to prompt the Seattle Museum of Flight to acquire an F106B model (SN 59-0158) that is currently in storage at AMARC (DMAFB, AZ). This particular aircraft gained some special recognition as the flight proficiency aircraft employed by the Mercury astronauts in the early 60s with which they maintained their aeonautical flight skills. We would like to request that you who read this add a letter of your own to that campaign, since the more letters that institution receives, the more seriously it will regard this effort. Please direct your letter to: THE MUSEUM OF FLIGHT, (ATTEN: DENNIS PARKS), 9404 EAST MARGINAL WAY SOUTH, SEATTLE, WA 98108-4046. Ernest White is a Six man of some stature and his prompting to have the museum request this particular bird is laudable--especially in view of the fact that the Air Force seems bound and determined to recycle all the remaining Sixes into chewing gum wrappers and soda cans. Please don't hesitate--send your letter to the Seattle Muesum of flight today. They have the horsepower to get things rolling to save this particular Six but they need to know you are equally concerned! Thanks.
As DRMS recycling churns onward, a few bits and pieces of Six components and equipment are starting to turn up for private purchase. Although I have a complete Weber rocket seat and throttle quadrant removed from the 2nd 'B' model built (SN: 57-2058), one item I have never been able to acquire is one of the unique "Y" yoke Six control stick grips that were found only on the F102 and F106 aircraft. As you all know, the right side of this unit was the primary flight control grip and the left side was the weapons targeting & acquisition system (MA-1) control grip. I would very much like to acquire one; if anyone out there has a line on one, or knows where one may be located, I'd certainly appreciate a 'heads-up' from you in that regard. Although an actual 'Six' grip is preferred, I'd settle for a 'Deuce' grip, since they are very similar.
One other thing: I am trying to recall the precise helmet paint scheme which Minot's 5th FIS crews were using in the 1965-67 time frame. I recall that it consisted of a white HGU-2A/P helmet with a medium shade blue visor cover, on which there were 5th FIS decals on the right visor shell side and a Delta Dart profile (in a circle)decal on the left side. This was while 5th FIS was still during ADC tenure--TAC had not yet taken air defense under its aegis, after which helmet color schemes changed and reflective tape became mandatory for ground safety reasons. Anyone who can confirm the above information or add to this, please contact me! Would help would be appreciated. Additionally, I need one of the Dart-within-a-circle visor cover decals, if anyone has a spare kicking around.
Stay tuned for further developments! [Or contact Christopher T. Carey, AEOLUS AEROSPACE, 5960 S. Land Park Drive, #341, Sacramento, CA 95822-3313 / tel/fax: (916) 391-8216]. E-mail is [firstname.lastname@example.org]. SAVE THE SIXES! [Last update: 26 Sep 99]. For another F106 Delta Dart website that is without doubt the ultimate homage to this magnificent aircraft, key the link below to