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#FBF: The Day Phantoms Departed Texas For The Final Time. Miss Them Yet?

Phabulous Phantoms Flew Texas Skies For Decades But All Good Things Come To An End

F-4E 74-1043 when serving with the Outlaws at Bergstrom AFB near Austin. Official US Air Force Photograph

During November of 2016, a pair of McDonnell Douglas QF-4E Phantom IIs flew into Alliance Airport in Fort Worth to perform a flyby at nearby Texas Motor Speedway. These two jets were the very last military Phabulous Phantoms to grace Texas skies. Over the years the United States Air Force (USAF) based F-4C, F-4D, F-4E, and RF-4C Phantom IIs at a few Air Force Bases (AFBs) in Texas including Bergstrom AFB near Austin. The Navy and Marines flew the F-4B, F-4J, F-4N, and F-4S variants of the Phab 4 out of Naval Air Station (NAS) Dallas near Mountain Creek Lake in Grand Prairie for many years. The Collings Foundation also bases the only privately owned F-4D out of Ellington Field near Houston. Enjoy these gorgeous HD videos posted by Gotyacovered Photography of the arrival, startup and taxi, and departure of these two QF-4Es.

The two jets were both built as F-4E-60-MC model Phantom IIs. Except for a couple of differences their service lives were remarkably similar. 74-1043 (CN4825), the gray jet in the video, began service with the 57th Fighter Weapons Wings (FWW) at Nellis AFB in Nevada during the late 1970s. In 1979 the jet went to the 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) Rocketeers of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) and remained there for a decade. The distinctive gray camouflage paint on 043 was applied by the 704th TFS Outlaws of the 924th Tactical Fighter Group (TFG) Air Force Reserve (AFRES) based at Bergstrom AFB. After only a couple of years she was retired to the boneyard where the jet languished for 17 years but was resurrected for conversion to QF-4E drone AF338.

The second aircraft, 74-0643 (CN 4794) wearing the wraparound gray/green camouflage paint, served in the same squadrons as 74-1043 to begin with but flew with the 335th TFS Chiefs for the majority of its time with the 4th TFW. 643 also received that gorgeous gray on gray camouflage paint job at the 704th TFS while based at Bergstrom. But for a short time right before being retired to the same boneyard at AMARG (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group) as 043, the jet returned to the 4th TFW. 643 also spent about 18 years in storage before being brought back to serve as QF-4E drone AF354 with the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron (ATRS) out of Holloman AFB in New Mexico. This departure video was shot from the front cockpit looking over the nose of the Rhino.

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Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.