This Week In AFLCMC History – June 10 - 16, 2024

  • Published
  • By Air Force Life Cycle Management Center History Office
10 Jun 1969 (ISR & Special Operations Forces Directorate)
Fifty-five years ago today, the Air Force approved the arming of OV-10 Bronco aircraft in Southeast Asia—following the aircraft’s MISTY BRONCO evaluation (April-June 1969), which assessed the OV-10’s potential to be a light attack aircraft. Although primarily designed as a Forward Air Control (FAC) platform, the OV-10, when armed, helped reduce the response time of the Air Force’s airstrike capability, particularly in supporting urgent, short-turn requests from the Army against highly perishable targets. Its initial armament consisted of high explosive rockets and M-60 machine guns.
12 Jun 1959 (Presidential and Executive Airpower Directorate)
On today’s date, sixty-five years ago, the new VC-137A made its first transatlantic—and first transoceanic—flight from Washington, D.C., to London, England. The trip of 3,528 miles took 8 hours, 34 minutes, and carried Gen Thomas D. White, the Air Force Chief of Staff, with several aids and twenty representatives from the media. A $5.5 million militarized version of the Boeing 707, the VC-137 was the first jet aircraft specifically designed as an “Air Force One” for use by the President of the United States. Also known as SAM (Special Air Mission) 970, or by its nickname “Queenie,” this initial VC-137A carried President Eisenhower for the first time in Aug 1959. In 1962, these VC-137As were replaced by upgraded VC-137Cs.
13 Jun 1984 (Hanscom AFB/Digital Directorate)
Today in 1984, forty years ago, the Air Force accepted its first production Adaptable Surface Interface Terminal (ASIT). ASITs were designed to enable communications between Air Force ground command and control centers and Army air defense assets, and could be deployed directly to Command and Reporting Centers (CRCs) or to Message Processing Centers (MPCs). The delivery of the first production ASIT on this date marked a major milestone in standing up the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), which was itself a network radio system developed to be a secure, jam-resistant data distribution and communication structure, enabling various U.S. and NATO air and ground assets to share information with one another.
14 Jun 1987 (Hill AFB/Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Directorate)
Following six F-4 Phantom crashes earlier in the year—including a highly-publicized crash on March 21st which killed Dean Paul Martin, Jr. (the son of popular entertainer Dean Martin) and his copilot—Hill AFB’s Ogden Air Logistics Center grounded all USAF F-4Cs and advised the other services flying Phantoms to conduct an inspection of their stabilator control components (specifically the stabilator feel trim bellows, a device that’s meant to put pressure on the pilot’s control stick at high flying speeds, impeding their ability to unintentionally make sudden, dangerous turns) before flying them. By the end of the month, 86 F-4s had been inspected at Hill AFB, with no defects discovered. The relevant Time Compliance Technical Order (TCTO) only took about 20-30 minutes per aircraft to complete.
15 Jun 1984 (Mobility and Training Aircraft Directorate)
On this date forty years ago, a Military Airlift Command C-130 Hercules airplane flew 4.5 tons of water pumping equipment and other supplies from Dyess AFB, Texas, to Kansas City International Airport, Missouri. This followed a period of heavy rains in May and early June, which had swelled the Missouri River and its tributaries, causing flooding in many communities along the river’s course. North of Kansas City, around St. Joseph, Missouri, approximately 400,000 acres of land were under water—as deep as 12 feet in some places. President Ronald Reagan declared five Missouri and six Kansas counties federal disaster areas as a result of the flooding. The four flood pumps and other equipment delivered by the C-130 to Kansas City on this date in 1984 were taken from the airport to the St. Joseph area by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where they were used to help drain key areas of the river to prevent greater flooding downstream. The floodwaters began to recede in July 1984. In all, it was the most disastrous flooding of the Missouri River since 1952.
16 Jun 1994 (Armament Directorate)
Thirty years ago today, the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) System Program Office (SPO) awarded a $23.3 million contract to Marvin Engineering Company for the production of 1,334 AMRAAM missile rail launchers (LOT VII), with initial delivery scheduled for Dec 1995. The AIM-120 AM-RAAM has A, B, and C variants, which the Air Force uses for F-15s, F-16s, and F-22s, respectively. Marvin’s launch rails that carry the missiles are designated the LAU-127 for the Navy’s F/A-18; the LAU-128 on the F-15; and the LAU-129 for the F-16. A different company produces the F-22 Raptor’s LAU-142 AMRAAM launch rails. . 

100 Years Ago This Week in AFLCMC History: 11 Jun 1924—Water Survival Equipment
On this Wednesday afternoon, Reaybourne “Red” LaVan—creatively nicknamed for what was left of his hair—hesitated atop the high diving platform above the Phillips pool at Dayton’s Island Park. His pause was not owed to acrophobia, but because of the distinguished observers and photographers keenly tracking his every move as he shuffled nearer the edge. With a nod to the audience, he jumped into the air—clad in a heavy rubberized suit that hid the bulging life preserver wrapped around his chest, and trailing a seat pack parachute. The 32-year-old wasn’t an Olympic diver or even a pilot; he was the McCook Field Engineering Division’s expert in developing special clothing for aviators, and he was demonstrating his new suit and survival vest concept.
During the earliest years of heavier-than-air aviation, so few pilots dared to go over large bodies of water that personal floatation devices weren’t even an after thought. But even as long-distance and trans-Atlantic flights became more commonplace in the early 1920s, Army Air Service pilots rarely ventured far from shore or were otherwise out of close reach of rescuers that they left water survival development up to the Navy and industry. McCook Field focused its meager pilot survival gear R&D budget on parachutes, high-altitude/cold-weather clothing, and oxygen systems.
Paralleling the parachute adoption process, pilots were skeptical of the need for personal floatation devices, had little room for them in the cockpit, found them to be awkward and uncomfortable, and rarely carried any. The Army’s first systems were stuffed with kapok, a naturally buoyant fiber, because, as with parachutes, pilots insisted on “foolproof” systems that didn’t require any interaction to work. LaVan’s suit used a kapok-filled vest worn under the heavy suit, which doubled as an effective means of keeping pilots from freezing in their open-cockpit planes at high altitudes.
Despite this early work at McCook, the Army Air Corps did not standardize its first life preserver until 1931. By then, development of inflatable vests that were much less bulky had made those the ubiquitous alternative, known in World War II as the “Mae West”. Even then, pilots still found cause to leave them off, though one who survived floating for two days in the ocean after ditching his plane commented, “A very small percentage of those who went into the sea without life vests lived to regret it.”