|By Carmelo Turdo|
James J. Eagan Community Center, Florissant, MO
McDonnell Aircraft F-101F Voodoo (s/n 58-0269)
The first activity of the event was a photo opportunity and award presentation that took place at the site of the F-101F Voodoo on display on a hill overlooking Florissant Valley Park. At around noon, an iconic gathering of those who built, flew and maintained the F-101 Voodoo from the McDonnell Aircraft and U.S. Air Force communities assembled for a series of photos and conversation amongst old friends and new acquaintances around the jet, which was recently cleaned and trimmed for the occasion. An award presentation was officiated by current Florissant Mayor Tom Schneider recognizing the work of Dwight "Red" Singleton, a Boeing employee who volunteered over 50 hours of time working to restore the Voodoo to the current excellent condition following an unfortunate occurrence of vandalism in 2012. Since then, the jets has enjoyed two years with its new paint, decals and lighted walkway that have made the exhibit more attractive and visible to Florissant Parks and Recreation staff at night.
The F-101F Voodoo located in Florissant Valley Park
New lighted walkway surrounds the aircraft
Dedication plaque was added as part of the restoration
McDonnell test pilots (L-R) Irv Burrows, Bob Little and Joe Dobronski
with Aerodynamicist Jack Abercrombie
Gathering of McDonnell and USAF Voodoo team
MAHS President Dan O'Hara (right) addresses the team
Florissant Mayor Tom Schneider (second from right) addresses the team
Florissant Mayor Tom Schneider (right) recognizes
Dwight "Red" Singleton for the restoration of the Voodoo
Following the outside activities, the main event took place in a large meeting room inside the James J. Eagan Community Center. Once in side, there was time to visit with the Voodoo team, meet other visitors and have some snacks prior to 1pm. F-101 Voodoo exhibits were provided by the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, MAHS military demonstration team presenter Joe Gurney, and others. As the early arrivals viewed the displays and interacted with the Voodoo team veterans, the room filled to over 70 guests just prior to the main event.
McDonnell test pilots Bob Little and Irv Burrows lead the guests through the exhibits
Historic documents, photos and models were on display to tell the
story of the development and service of the F-101 Voodoo
The main event of the day was the gathering of some of the Voodoo team veterans for a panel discussion, along the same format inaugurated by the Missouri Aviation Historical Society for the Mercury spacecraft 50th anniversary of astronaut Gordon Cooper's flight in May, 2013. (Since then, the Mercury panel has met several more times for other programs). Missouri Aviation Historical Society President Dan O'Hara opened the session, and then turned over the panel moderation to local pilot, aviation historian and publisher Gary Liming. Eight members of the panel answered questions about their involvement in the F-101 program from their manufacturing, flight testing or military service experience. Topics ranged from flying characteristics to combat tactics to the workings of various hardware aboard the jet. A few issues were addressed by others present at the event who had insight into the issue discussed. Throughout the panel discussion, it became more evident with each question that this was an historic assembly of aerospace giants, who, regardless of their achievements, remained humble and available to anyone who wished to visit with them. More details of the panel discussion will be featured in future posts by The Aero Experience.
Members of the Panel (L-R): Chuck Fulton, Dan Venverloh, Dick Moffitt,
Joe Dobronski, Gary Liming, Bob West, Bob Gould,
George Andre, and William Spurgeon
Following the panel discussion, a cake with the Voodoo logo was served along with other refreshments. The first cut was made by Bob Little, the McDonnell test pilot who flew the first flight of the F-101, and the remainder of the cake was cut by Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum President, Mark Nankivil.
F-101 themed cake from McArthur's Bakery
McDonnell Test Pilot Bob Little cuts the cake
|McDonnell Test Pilots (L-R): Irv Burrows, Bob Little, Joe Dobronski|
McDonnell Test Pilot Bob Little signs autographs following the program
The Aero Experience wishes to thank Missouri Aviation Historical Society President Dan O'Hara and other members for organizing this event. Special thanks to those guests from the McDonnell Aircraft and military communities who participated in the panel discussion and added their experiences. Also, thanks to those who attended the event and showed support for the mission of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society. Look for further coverage of the panel discussion in upcoming posts.