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That Time The High Rollers RF-4C Phantoms Roared Just Feet Over Nevada’s Pyramid Lake

The High Rollers Get Up Close and Personal at Nevada’s Pyramid Lake

Official US Air Force Photograph

This video shows the High Rollers blowing off a little steam during a photo shoot. Their actual mission was an important one that influenced history.

The 192nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) High Rollers of the Nevada Air National Guard (ANG) stood up and became operational in 1961. Originally equipped with Martin RB-57G Canberras, the High Rollers provided tactical reconnaissance for 34 years. They were placed on alert during the 1961 Berlin Crisis and 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis but not deployed. In 1965 the squadron received their first McDonnell RF-101 Voodoos, which they would fly for the next ten years. In 1968 the High Rollers were called up and deployed in support of the surge that occurred as a result of the Pueblo Crisis.

The 192nd rolled up some frequent flyer miles during their year of active duty, deploying to Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, North Africa and some 18 Air Force Bases (AFBs) within the United States. As a result of their outstanding efforts, the High Rollers became only the second unit awarded the 5th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

(Video posted on YouTube by F4Flys)

The 192nd TRS began operating the RF-4C Phantom II in 1975. The 192nd operated the Photo Phantom for the next twenty years. During this period the High Rollers deployed to the Gulf in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The squadron was based out of Doha International Airport in Qatar and flew 350 combat sorties totaling more than 1000 combat hours with no losses. The 192nd was instrumental in the determination of locations and dispositions of the Iraqi Republican Guard units in the desert.  Baghdad was also a frequent destination where the cameras sought out chemical weapons plants, rocket fuel plants, and command and communications centers.

Official US Air Force Photograph

Later, the RF-4Cs of the High Rollers were tasked with Scud hunting as the Iraqis began lobbing the missiles from remote, hidden, or temporary sites all over western Iraq. The Desert Storm take from the 192nd totaled over 19,000 prints from 300,000 feet of exposed film. After Desert Storm concluded, the 192nd TRS came home and was slowly but steadily retired from ANG service. The last four High Rollers RF-4C Phantom IIs, combat veterans all, and the last operational RF-4Cs in the entire Air Force, were flown from their Reno Air National Guard Base facility at Reno-Tahoe International Airport to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona during September of 1995. Thanks go to YouTuber F4Flys for uploading the videos.

Official US Air Force Photograph

BONUS Video: The 192nd flies a 4 ship over the Nevada landscape. This video includes radio calls.

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Bill Walton

Written by 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.

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