Visiting an F-8

What does the F-8 have to do with “The Propeller under the Bed?” The Navy F-8 was a contemporary of the F-100s that Arnold used to fly, and the two airplanes used the same engine, the Pratt and Whitney J57. The F-8 was quite a bit faster in level flight than the F-100, and the F-8 set several speed records in the 1950s (which the Air Force snatched back as quickly as possible, of course).

The F-8 had an impressive record in Vietnam, racking up 19 MiG air-to-air kills compared to only three F-8 losses.

I’ve been doing some research on the F-8 for another project I’m working on, and I had a chance to see the very first F-8, designated the XF8U-1, which is being restored by Craig Wall for the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The work is being done at the MoF Restoration Center at Paine Field in Everett, so that made it easy to see it. Here’s two pictures of the aircraft, now repainted exactly as it was during its first flight in March 1955:

First prototype F-8, restored to paint scheme used during first flight in March 1955 (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

First prototype F-8, restored to paint scheme used during first flight in March 1955 (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

First prototype F-8, designated the XF8U-1 at the time (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

First prototype F-8, designated the XF8U-1 at the time (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

I think you can agree that Craig is doing an outstanding job. Interestingly, he’s a retired Air Force mechanic who knew nothing about the F-8 before he started working on it. You can see him in the above photo on the left (he and Arnold are behind the wing of another aircraft).

Arnold went along with me, and he just couldn’t resist climbing into the cockpit to check it out:

Arnold in the XF8U-1 cockpit at the Museum of Flight Restoration Center (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Arnold in the XF8U-1 cockpit at the Museum of Flight Restoration Center (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

I’m trying to get another “Amazing Aviation Tale” churned out in the next couple of weeks. Talk to you then!