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Arnold Air Force Base Explains Static Aircraft Display

F-4C Phantom II display at Arnold AFB honors Wynne and Golberg

The static aircraft displayed outside the Main Gate and Gate 2 of Arnold Air Force Base hold a far greater significance than decorative purposes.

The displays symbolize the importance of the work performed across Arnold Engineering Development Complex, headquartered at Arnold AFB. Testing conducted within AEDC facilities played a role in either the development or advancement of each type of aircraft exhibited.

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But there is a more substantial meaning behind the displays. Each serves to honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. They are dedicated to members of the U.S. military who gave their lives in service to the country.

The displays are publicly accessible, and it’s not uncommon to see members of the community or other visitors stop for an up-close look at the aircraft. Many have likely taken the time to read the commemorative plaques installed in front of each to learn about those the displays honor.  However, others who catch a glimpse of the planes while passing by Arnold on Wattendorf Memorial Highway may be unaware of what the displays represent.

The first feature focuses on the F-4C Phantom II displayed at Gate 2, dedicated in memory of Col. Lawrence Golberg and Maj. Patrick Wynne during a Nov. 27, 2007, ceremony.

“Today our dedication is focused on those who flew the Phantom as much as it is on the aircraft itself,” then-AEDC commander Col. Art Huber said during the event. “We honor Col. Golberg and Maj. Wynne, who answered their county’s call and bravely flew into harm’s way. Their payment of the ultimate price means you and I can be here today at this ceremony remembering their contributions and remembering them as great Americans.”

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The F-4 on display is similar to the one Golberg and Wynne, both U.S. Air Force assigned to the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, were piloting when they were struck over North Vietnam and crashed in the jungle in 1966. It would be more than a decade later before their remains were located and returned to the U.S.

Golberg was born near Duluth, Minnesota, in 1932. He was a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the ROTC program.

Prior to his Vietnam duty, Golberg was an instructor pilot at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. He was one of the first Air Force F-4 pilots to shoot down a communist MiG-7. He accomplished this on April 30, 1966, during a combat air patrol mission while searching for a downed RF-101 Voodoo pilot.

Wynne was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1941. Following his graduation from the Air Force Academy in 1963, Wynne earned a degree in political science from Georgetown University.

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In 1965, Wynne became a fighter pilot. He was subsequently assigned to the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, also known as the Triple Nickel, which at the time was based at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand.

On Aug. 8, 1966, Golberg and Wynne took part in an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. After delivering their ordinance, the F-4 they were piloting was struck by anti-aircraft fire and crashed in the jungle.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, U.S. investigators learned after the war that Golberg and Wynne bailed out of the aircraft over a Vietnamese village, where they were captured and killed. Immediate search and rescue efforts were unsuccessful in locating the aircraft or its crew.

The two pilots were listed as Missing in Action. That classification would remain in place until 1977 when their remains were located and returned to the U.S. by the Vietnamese government.

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Wynne’s remains rest at the Air Force Academy. Golberg’s rest in his hometown in Minnesota.

Michael W. Wynne, at the time Secretary of the Air Force, attended the November 2007 dedication ceremony at Arnold and looked on as the F-4 was dedicated in honor of Golberg and Maj. Wynne, his older brother.

“Pat believed with all his heart in what he was doing,” Secretary Wynne said. “It was a life that was not lived, but well-lived.”

Members of Golberg’s family also attended the ceremony. The thoughts of his widow Margaret were with all who had lost their lives while serving the nation and those continuing to serve.

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“I’m emotional not because I feel sad or glad,” she said. “It’s because I think of all – not only my husband or Maj. Wynne – but all of the fallen warriors, and I hope they will be remembered. I think it is important to not only remember the fallen but those who are still alive and carry on the mission.”

At one time, the F-4 now displayed at Arnold was assigned to the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron.

The F-4 Phantom II was deployed in December 1960. AEDC conducted extensive store separation testing from the F-4. AEDC’s involvement with the F-4 further included validation of a number of pioneering test and data collection technologies and techniques such as the use of thermographic phosphor paint and the application of a light oil coating to visualize airflow over the test model during wind tunnel analysis.

In March 1972, a scale model of an F-4 variant was tested in the AEDC’s 4-foot transonic wind tunnel to determine the flight characteristics of bombs, fuel tanks and missiles dropped or launched from an aircraft with wing modifications to improve maneuverability.

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That July, an F-4 model underwent wind tunnel testing at Arnold to study the aerodynamic effects of external stores on aircraft flight characteristics. Scale models of guided weapons and external fuel tanks were mounted on an F-4 model to determine their impact on aircraft stability, among other flight aspects. Flight speeds of up to 950 miles per hour and various angles of attack were simulated.

Additional tests involving the F-4 were conducted at Arnold throughout the 1970s. One such example occurred in the latter half of 1975, when the compatibility of the aircraft and an air-to-surface munition was studied in the 4-foot wind tunnel.

Along with their utilization in ground testing at Arnold, models of the F-4 were used as part of several research projects. One such project – an Air Force program supported by NASA – occurred in October 1976. The aim was to develop a mathematical method to compensate for the effect of aerodynamic noise on wind tunnel data. This would make the data correlate more closely with data obtained in actual flight tests.

After the model was subjected to a variety of test conditions, a scale for measuring the influence of wind tunnel noise on aerodynamic testing was developed.

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Additional wind tunnel tests conducted in preparation for actual flight tests followed.

In 1979, part of an F-4 tail was tested in an Arnold wind tunnel to evaluate the operation of a hydromechanical damper system designed to suppress the bending and twisting flutter effects encountered in flight.

This is the first in a series of six stories focused on those to whom the displays are dedicated. Information on work performed at Arnold to field the safest and most effective version of each aircraft displayed will also be provided by AEDC.

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