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Flying high at the Wings Over the Rockies air museum

From a super rare B-1A to an even rarer Incom T-65B, this museum in Denver has a lot on display. Here's a look around.

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Geoffrey Morrison
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Wings Over the Rockies

The Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum certainly makes a great first impression, with this RB-52B looking like it's taking off from the parking lot. 

For more info about the museum and our tour, check out fast bombers and sleek fighters at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum.

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Hangar

The museum fills a massive hanger on the site that was once Lowry Air Force Base.

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Colorado Corsair

This A-7 Corsair II was flown by the Colorado Air National Guard.

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Ready to go

Fancy a quick flight?

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Phantom

This F-4 Phantom II was used as a trainer at Lowry, so it hasn't traveled far from its former home.

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Storied Huey

This UH-1 Huey flew combat and other missions in Vietnam, before flying in the Nebraska Air National Guard for 25 years. It was almost used as a target drone, but the program was canceled before it could be destroyed. It was then acquired and restored by a Colorado native. 

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Super Super Sabre

The F-100 Super Sabre was the first American fighter aircraft able to reach supersonic speed in level flight.

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Worldwide

The museum's F-100 actually saw service in the Lebanon CrisisBerlin Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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Starfighter

One of two Starfighters at the museum, the F-104 doesn't look like it should be able to fly. Stubby, razor sharp wings attached to a fuselage that's basically nothing but engine.

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Thunder

Not the best looking of the Century Series fighters, the F-105 Thunderchief served throughout the Vietnam War and in Air National Guard units until the early 80s.

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Delta

Another Century Series, the F-102 Delta Dagger is one of the few fighter aircraft with a delta-wing design.

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Big Bolo

The B-18 Bolo first flew in 1935 and was basically already obsolete.

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Anti-sub

However, it was fairly successful in anti-submarine warfare.

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Popular Beech

This is a UC-45 Expeditor, multirole transport/cargo aircraft based on the Beechcraft Model 18, one of the most widely produced aircraft in history. 

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Remove before flight

More than 9,000 Model 18 and its variants were built, and several hundred are still flying.

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Space transport

This is a full-size mockup of Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser, a reusable vehicle to get astronauts or cargo to the ISS. 

It is not, as I'd first thought, Farscape-1.

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Tight fit

The Dream Chaser could fit up to seven people.

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Thunderflash

This is the RF-84K Thunderflash, the highly-modified reconnaissance version of the F-84F Thunderstreak. Interestingly, this is one of the K variants that was part of the FICON project which experimented with these as parasite fighters carried by a B-36.

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Eye in the sky

In its nose, the Thunderflash could carry up to 15 cameras.

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Resto Mig

Of all the Soviet aircraft the museum could have, it's fitting they're restoring a MiG-23, one of the most widely produced swing-wing aircraft. That's definitely a swing-wing theme here.

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Beware of blast

At altitude, the MiG-23 could reach Mach 2.35.

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Homemade helicopter

Would you fly in a helicopter that you built in your garage? This one was built by a man named Art Murray, and it was approved to fly by the Federal Aviation Administration.

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Gentille Alouette

Here's an Aérospatiale Alouette III decked out in rescue guise.

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Rescue

The III could carry two pilots, two nurses/doctors and two patients. The Irish Air Corps flew this aircraft for its entire service life. 

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Not so regular Sabre

The F-86H Sabre was a modified version of the standard F-86 that could carry and launch a nuclear bomb.

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Down the gullet

Take a look right down the (empty) middle.

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Canyonero

Legendary aerospace engineer Burt Rutane designed the M-309 CarbonAero. It was developed into the Adam A500.

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Big wing bomber

The English Electric Canberra, aka the B-57, first flew in the '50s. The RAF retired theirs in 2006, but NASA still flies three today. This version was built under license in the US by Martin.

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111

Yet another swing-wing aircraft at the museum is the F-111 Aardvark. This is the far less common FB-111A strategic bomber variant. 

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That nose

It was yet another aircraft that was intended to replace the B-52. But while it has left service the B-52 soldiers on.

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Replacement

When the B-1B entered service in the 80's the FB-111A was no longer needed. Some were converted to be F-111Gs, but most were used for training then retired.

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Tomcat

Probably the most famous swing-wing aircraft is the F-14 Tomcat.

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Trainer

The museum's F-14 was primarily a training aircraft stationed aboard the aircraft carrier the USS John C. Stennis.

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Prowler

The EA-6B Prowler filled a variety of roles for the Navy over its long service.

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Foldable wings

This Prowler flew with Electronic Attack Squadron 134 out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington.

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2x2

The crew of four sat 2x2, a rare arrangement for a small aircraft.

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Jetwing

This is an interesting aircraft, both for its one-of-a-kind design and its local origins. It's a Ball-Bartoe Jetwing, designed, built and flown in Colorado.

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Blown wing

One of the things that made the Jetwing is its blown wing. Compressed air from the jet engine could be sent through the wing. This let the aircraft remain controllable down to speeds of 40mph.

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Space superiority fighter

This is a T-65B "X-Wing" starfighter from the Incom Corporation. It was the most common fighter of the Alliance to Restore the Republic in the Galactic Civil War.

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S-foils

The T-65B is 13.4 meters long and features two pair of movable strike foils (also known as "S-foils") which, when opened, give the Taim & Bak KX9 laser cannons mounted at their tips a wider spread. 

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Droids

Each T-65B also featured a socket for an astromech navigation droid. The museum's example, on loan from the intermediary manufacturer Lucasfilm, features a blue-on-white R2-series unit.

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Lancer

The museum's B-1A looks massive as it sits above so many other aircraft. 

Of course, it is a huge aircraft.

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Prototype

The B-1A, of which only four were made, was capable of Mach 2.2, making it one of the fastest production aircraft ever, not to mention one of the fastest bombers.

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1 of 3

The B-1 has three bomb bays, and was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons. The current B-1B carries traditional weapons.

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Engines

The F101 engine in the B-1A was an extremely successful engine design, far out living the B-1A itself. It was modified for use in the B-1B. Variations of the engine were used in everything from the F-14, -15, and -16 to Boeing's 737, Airbus's A340 and more.

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Cruciform

The B-1 features a fairly rare cruciform tail design, with its mid-mounted horizontal stabilizer.

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Don't mean a thing if it ain't got that...

The B-1's wings can swing between a wingspan of 78 feet to 138 feet.

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Miles high

The Wings Over the Rockies Museum is an immaculate space with beautifully maintained aircraft. I highly recommend a visit. 

For more info about the museum and our tour, check out my article about the Wings Over the Rockies Museum.

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