History of the airport jet

Mark Brooky • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:20 PM


That's an F-100 Super Sabre, which was used by the U.S. Air Force from 1954-71 and by the Air National Guard until 1979. It was the first USAF fighter capable of supersonic speed in level flight.

My late father probably worked on those planes, as he was a jet fighter mechanic for the Michigan Air National Guard and the Air Force during that time.

After its tour of duty in the Vietnam War, the plane was shipped to Grand Haven through the cooperation of the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force and the Thunderbird Squadron. It was dedicated on Aug. 1, 1970, as part of that year's Coast Guard Festival.

"At precisely 11 a.m., the famed Thunderbird Squadron made a low pass-over," Dr. Dave Seibold noted in his local history tome, "Grand Haven in the Path of Destiny."

Seibold said it was Charlie Bugielski who was the driving force to get the plane to Grand Haven after he saw a World War II bomber mounted on a pylon at the entrance to Milwaukee's Billy Mitchell Airport. Also, a Thunderbird pilot who was killed during training in 1961 was a friend of Bugielski.

The plaque at the base of the pylon reads: "U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Memorial. This site is dedicated by the citizens of Grand Haven to the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. By their demonstrations they have awed us, and by their examples they have inspired us."

Want to see an F-100 fly? CLICK HERE.

The city has talked about refurbishing the plane for several years, and funding for that is on the docket as part of the city's Artifact Fund.

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