A Trip to the Military Hill Air Force Base Museum

Summer time in Utah can get really hot and the kids usually like to stay inside in a nice air conditioned house.  This usually leads to boredom, so I decided to take the family up to the Hill Air Force Base Museum.  The drive is about an hour from where I live which is worth the gas to see these retired military aircraft.  This post is about my trip with pictures included!

The base museum has 2 parts to it; outside and inside.  We first started with the outside as to avoid the heat of the day.

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The B-1 Lancer is a bomber used by the USAF. First envisioned in the 1960s as a supersonic bomber with sufficient range and payload to replace the B-52 Stratofortress, it developed primarily into a low-level penetrator with long range and supersonic speed capability. Its development was stopped and restarted multiple times over its history. It eventually entered service more than 20 years after first being studied.

The B-1B production version has been in service with the United States Air Force (USAF) since 1986. The Lancer serves as the supersonic component of the USAF’s long-range bomber force, along with the subsonic B-52 and B-2. The bomber is commonly called the “Bone” (originally from “B-One”). The B-1B is the U.S. military’s only active variable-sweep wing aircraft.

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My daughter loved this old P51 Mustang because it has her name on it.  She thought that was pretty neat.  The P-51 Mustang was a long-range single-seat fighter aircraft that entered service with Allied air forces in the middle years of WWII. The P-51 flew most of its wartime missions as a bomber escort in raids over Germany, helping ensure Allied air superiority from early 1944. It also saw limited service against the Japanese in the Pacific War. The Mustang began the Korean War as the United Nations main fighter, but was relegated to a ground attack role when superseded by jet fighters early in the conflict. Nevertheless, it remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s.

As well as being economical to produce, the Mustang was a fast, well-made, and highly durable aircraft. The definitive version, the P-51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650, a two-stage two-speed supercharged version of the legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, and was armed with six .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns.

After World War II and the Korean conflict, many Mustangs were converted for civilian use, especially air racing. The Mustang’s reputation was such that, in the mid-1960s, Ford Motor Company’s  Designer John Najjar proposed the name for a new youth-oriented coupe automobile after the fighter.

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This is me reading the specs on the “Super Sabre”.  The F-100 Super Sabre was a jet fighter aircraft that served with the United States Air Force (USAF) from 1954 to 1971 and with the Air National Guard (ANG) until 1979. As the first of the Century Series collection of USAF jet fighters, it was capable of supersonic speed in level flight, and made extensive use of titanium throughout the aircraft.

The F-100 was originally designed as a higher performance follow-on to the F-86 Sabre air superiority fighter. Adapted as a fighter bomber, the F-100 would be supplanted by the Mach 2 class F-105 Thunderchief for strike missions over North Vietnam. The F-100 flew extensively over South Vietnam as the Air Force’s primary close air support jet until replaced by the more efficient subsonic A-7 Corsair II. The F-100 also served in several NATO air forces and with other US allies. In its later life, it was often referred to as “the Hun,” a shortened version of “one hundred.”

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This picture to me just Screams Firepower and Technology.  This is a picture of the MH-53M Pave Low Helicopter and the SR-71 Blackbird.

The MH-53J Pave Low III heavy-lift helicopter is the largest, most powerful and technologically advanced transport helicopter in the US Air Force inventory. The terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radar, forward looking infrared sensor, inertial navigation system with Global Positioning System, along with a projected map display enable the crew to follow terrain contours and avoid obstacles, making low-level penetration possible.

Under the Pave Low III program, the Air Force modified nine MH-53Hs and 32 HH-53s for night and adverse weather operations. Modifications included forward-looking infrared, inertial navigation system, global positioning system, Doppler navigation systems, APQ-158 terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radar, an on-board mission computer, enhanced navigation system, and integrated avionics to enable precise navigation to and from target areas. The Air Force designated these modified versions as MH-53Js.

The MH-53J’s main mission is to drop off, supply, and pick up special forces who are behind enemy lines. It also can engage in combat search and rescue missions. Low-level penetration is made possible by a state-of-the-art terrain following radar, as well as infrared sensors that allow the helicopter to operate in bad weather.

This helicopter is equipped with armor plating. It can transport 38 troops at a time and sling up to 20,000 pounds (9,000 kg) of cargo with its external hook. It reaches top speeds of 165 mph (266 km/h) and altitudes up to 16,000 feet (4,900 m).

The MH-53M Pave Low IV is a modified MH-53J with the Interactive Defensive Avionics System/Multi-Mission Advanced Tactical Terminal or IDAS/MATT. The system enhances present defensive capabilities of the Pave Low. It provides instant access to the total battlefield situation, through near real-time Electronic Order of Battle updates. It also provides a new level of detection avoidance with near real-time threat broadcasts over-the-horizon, so crews can avoid and defeat threats, and re plan en route if needed.

The MH-53 Pave Low’s last mission was on 27 September 2008, when the remaining six helicopters flew their last combat missions in support of special operations forces in Southwest Asia. These MH-53Ms were retired thereafter.

The Lockheed SR-71 was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3 strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12A aircraft by the Lockheed Skunk Works as a Black project.  The SR-71 was unofficially named the Blackbird, and called the Habu by its crews, referring to an Okinawan species of pit viper.  The first flight of an SR-71 took place on 22 December 1964, at Air Force Plant 42 in California. The first SR-71 to enter service was delivered to the 4200th (later, 9th) Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California, in January 1966. The United States Air Force Strategic Air Command had SR-71 Blackbirds in service from 1966 through 1991.

The SR-71 remained the world’s fastest and highest-flying operational manned aircraft throughout its career. From an altitude of 80,000 feet (24,000 m), it could survey 100,000 square miles (260,000 km2) per hour of the Earth’s surface. In addition, it was accurate enough to take a legible picture of a car’s license plate from this altitude. On 28 July 1976, an SR-71 broke the world record for its class: an absolute speed record of 1,905.81 knots (2,193.17 mph; 3,529.56 km/h), and an “absolute altitude record” of 85,069 feet (25,929 m). Several aircraft exceeded this altitude in zoom climbs but not in sustained flight.  The SR-71 also holds the record for flying from New York to London in 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds, set on 1 September 1974. This equates to an average velocity of about Mach 2.68, including deceleration for in-flight refueling. Peak speeds during this flight were probably closer to the declassified top speed of Mach 3.2+. (For comparison, the best commercial Concorde flight time was 2 hours 52 minutes, and the Boeing 747 averages 6 hours 15 minutes.)

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This is my favorite picture.  The F-16 was always my favorite and the American Flag in the background says it all.  There is an absolute reason why our countries military is by far the best.  We have the best technology and the best individuals serving.

The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falconis a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force. Designed as a lightweight, day-time Visual Flight Rules (VFR) fighter, it evolved into a successful multirole aircraft.  The Fighting Falcon is a dogfighter with numerous innovations including a frameless, bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while under high g-forces, and reclined seat to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot. The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and has 11 hardpoints for mounting various missiles, bombs and pods. It was also the first fighter aircraft deliberately built to sustain 9-g turns. It has a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than one, providing power to climb and accelerate vertically — if necessary. Although the F-16’s official name is “Fighting Falcon”, it is known to its pilots as the “Viper“, due to it resembling a cobra snake and after the Battlestar Galacticastarfighter. It is used by the Thunderbirds air demonstration team.

The F-16 is a single-engined, supersonic, multi-role tactical aircraft. The F-16 was designed to be a cost-effective combat “workhorse” that can perform various kinds of missions and maintain around-the-clock readiness. It is much smaller and lighter than its predecessors, but uses advanced aerodynamics and avionics, including the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire (RSS/FBW) flight control system, to achieve enhanced maneuver performance. Highly nimble, the F-16 can pull 9-gmaneuvers and can reach a maximum speed of over Mach 2. The F-16 is equipped with an M61 Vulcan 20 mm cannonin the left wing root with the F-16A distinguished by having four vents behind the port for the M61 cannon whereas the subsequent F-16C has only two vents behind the cannon port. Early models could also be armed with up to six AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seeking short-range air-to-air missiles (AAM), including a single missile mounted on a dedicated rail launcher on each wingtip. Some variants can also employ the AIM-7 Sparrow long-range radar-guided AAM, and more recent versions can be equipped with the AIM-120 AMRAAM. It can also carry other AAM; a wide variety of air-to-ground missiles, rockets or bombs; electronic countermeasures (ECM), navigation, targeting or weapons pods; and fuel tanks on eleven hardpoints – six under the wings, two on wingtips and three under the fuselage.

Here is a list of missions that the F-16 has been involved with.  Bekaa Valley and Osiraq raid (1981), Operation Peace for Galilee (1982), Incidents during the Soviet-Afghan War (1986–1988), Operation Desert Storm (1991), Interwar Air Operations over Iraq (1991-2003), Venezuelan coup attempt (1992), Balkans (1994–1995 and 1999), Aegean incidents (1996 and 2006), Kargil War (1999), Operations in Afghanistan (2001–present), Invasion of Iraq and post-war operations (2003–present), Second Lebanon War (2006) and finally Operations in North-West Pakistan (May 2009–present).  The F-16 is to remain in service until 2025.

I also wanted to make mention of just a few weapons.  I cannot believe how advanced these were and are for how old they are.

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GBU-12 Paveway II guided bomb

The GBU-12 guided bomb is comprised of a 500 pound general purpose iron bomb fitted with a laser seeker head and mechanical control surface.  Together these allow the weapon to guide on the laser energy reflected from a target being illuminated by a laser designator.  There are 2 generations of GBU-12 laser guided bombs:  The Paveway I with fixed wings and the Paveway II with folding wings and many other internal improvements.  This weapon weighs 800 pounds and is armed with 192 pounds of Tritonal High Explosive.

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Bolt-117 Laser Guided Bomb

The Bolt-117 was the first Laser Guided Bomb.  It consisted of a standard 750 LB bomb case with a KMU-342 laser guidance and control kit.  The army began research into laser guidance systems in 1962 and by 1967 the air force had conducted a competitive evaluation leading to full development.  Its impact on air power was revolutionary. Laser guidance kits turned standard “dumb” ordinance into into “smart” effectiveness compared to free fall bombs.  This yielded a 100-fold increase in effectiveness.

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The gun is a seven rotating barrel assembly.  The gun will fire 4,200 30 MM rounds a minute.  The barrels are rotated by 2 hydraulic motors.  The accuracy of the weapon is rated 5 MIL 80% meaning that 80% of the rounds fired at 4,000 FT will hit within a circle 40 ft across.  The weapon fires two types of ammunition, a non explosive kinetic energy armor piercing round also a high explosive round.

One of the best things about the museum is the kids learning center.  They have all types of flight simulators which I liked the best.  They have an area the shows the kids the difference in material used to the aircraft.  For example – they have a piece of steel, aluminum and carbon fiber.  They are all the same dimension and size, but they all weigh different and have their own strength threshold.  This kids can dress up in astronaut outfits and the list goes on.

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Who knows – maybe future astronauts.

We spent about 3 hrs there.  We had lots of fun and I was able to speak to many Veteran volunteers, which I have great respect for.  My kids loved it because it gives them a chance to see and experience things that are directed to their freedoms.  I think I will make this a yearly trip with the family to help them remember and not take this country for granted.

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