Monday, January 21, 2013

The Corvette, the F-16, and America

Last weekend GM unveiled the seventh generation Corvette and it got me thinking that there are a handful of cars and aircraft that epitomize American design. The Corvette and Ford Mustang are the best examples of that aesthetic in the automotive world, and the P-51, C-47, and F-16 in aviation.

So it's fitting to point out that on this day in 1974 the F-16 flew for the first time by test pilot Phil Oestricher.

In case you missed it, Britmodeller user Vingtor posted an in-progress thread of a 1/72 YF-16 last year, and you can see his stunning, finished model here.

Vingtor Aviation History and Research produces decals of the early F-16s in 1/72 and 1/48 scale. I recently acquired a set and can say they're beautiful. They include markings for red,white, and blue YF-16s 72-01567 and 72-01568, the two-tone grey F-16A 75-0745, and the F-16B (75-0752) used to test the J79 engine. Great stuff all around!

My first experience with the F-16 was sometime around 1980, when as a member of the Civil Air Patrol, I went to an open house at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. The 56th TFW was transitioning from the F-4D to the F-16 at the time, and everyone was excited to see this tiny, new fighter. I still have a couple of the promotional prints handed out at the event. In the years that followed I flew with the 56th on three occasions. Every year they flew one of their UH-1P Hueys to my local airport and gave orientation flights to the members of the high school's AFJROTC squadron, of which I was a member. Those days are among my most treasured experiences of my life (particularly considering I never became a pilot myself).


  1. Very cool. I recently picked up a set of the Vingtor decals in 1/48 scale. I pland on doing a #1 prototype using an old Entex kit and the first production jet using the old Tamiya kit. I remeber seeing that old boxing of the Tamiya kit as a kid and have always wanted it. By today's standard it is a crap kit but the nostaligia in me wants to build it!
    The first time I saw an F-16 was probably about the same time frame, early 80s, at an airshow at Westover AFB, MA. I'd seen F-106s, FB-111s and F-14s fly but watching the F-16 honk into a 9g min radius turn with the burner cooking was about the coolest thing I'd ever seen!

  2. Hum. You mean the P-51, C-47, and F-86, right? The F-16 part must be a typo...