of Hickory, North Carolina
Article and Photos by Jeff Willhelm
Lt. Curt Rogers, commandant of the JROTC unit at Newton Conover High School, paid a visit to his old horse at the museum. He flew with VMFT 401. He described the Tiger II as a very hands on airplane, strictly mechanical in it’s simplicity.
He told the Hickory Daily Record, “Compared to some of the other planes, it’s a lawn mower with wings,” he said. “It’s very light. If you loaded it down with bombs, it slowed. “But stripped down as an aggressor, it was fast.” The F-5 had a minimum of electronics. It didn’t fly itself like some high-tech, computerized attack jets. For one thing, it didn’t have an autopilot. “You couldn’t relax,” Rogers said. “You were always working the plane.” But he and his fellow Snipers made things a little easier when they obtained GPS units — just like the ones at electronic stores — and mounted them on the dash. Rogers’ ride was traded to the Swiss. Later, it was bought back. The aviation museum latched on to it when it was decommissioned. “It was great,” Rogers said of his time in the Corps. “But what I do now is very rewarding.”
Our latest acquisition arrived Wednesday night, 1/16/08 at 7:30PM, after an uneventful trip from Florida. It is in great shape and will be a welcome addition to our collection. The fuselage is bears the markings of USMC VMFT-401, BuNo. 741540. The wings are stressed out examples taken from a Swiss F-5E, but the colors are a close match save for the SAF crosses. The cockpit has been pretty much stripped of instrumentation as the type is still in service world wide and parts are needed.
Plans are to unload the aircraft and assemble it early Thursday morning.
The Aggressor is coming together, this Saturday morning the horizontal stabilizer was reassembled and work began on the leading edge flap mechanisms. Snow started falling and our shade tree mechanics called it a day shortly after lunch.