Hanscom AFB’s 1989 and 1991 Air Shows


42nd Bomb Wing KC-135R based at Loring AFB, Maine. The base in Maine is now closed Air Force Base due to the BRAC. 

The three year period between 1989 and 1991 saw a pair of air shows at Massachusetts’ Hanscom AFB, to the west of Boston. Hanscom did not have a flying mission, which ended in 1973, but attracted many interesting military aircraft from time to time. At one time, the Electronic Systems Division (known by other names over the years too) would sponsor military aircraft for their laboratory work. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Lincoln Labs has a flying presence at the former Air Force Base, even today. 

The twenty or so years since these shows has contained a huge turnover of military aircraft in the United States military branches. … look at what was displayed at Hanscom AFB in the years on either side of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Westover Air Reserve Base – based C-5A Galaxy. It is parked in the desert at the AMARG now.

MC-130E Combat Talon complete with the now-retired Fulton Recovery System.

E-2 Hawkeye with a pair of shared  MiG-21 kills.

This E-2C is now retired and used as a training fuselage.

This S-3B has a pair of red radar installation kill markings iuder the “702”.

Marine Corps OV-10D Broncos were retired shortly after Desert Storm ended.

This C-29A is a militarized Hawker Siddeley/Raytheon HS-125 corporate jet fitted with civilian air navigation testing equipment.

C-5A with European-style camouflage… a desert war with desert camouflage was not in the foreseeable future a few years earlier.

A Vermont ANG/158 FW F-16A ADF (Air Defense Variant). The 158th FW now flies the F-35B Lightning II.

Looks like a former Blue Angels “Boss” is now a CAG in  1991!! Captain Moneymaker retired as a Rear Admiral later on.

Kill markings on an EA-6 Prowler. HARM anti-radiation missiles were used heavily in the Gulf War.

Army AH-64A Apache. All Apaches are all now upgraded to a -D variant or later.

Air Force F-15B Eagle, assigned to the Luke AFB training wing at the time. All of the F-15 A and B models have long been retired.

Canadian Forces CT-133 Silver Star. Today, you’ll see the aircraft in civilian air show “Ace Maker” markings!

MGM Grand Air normally operated from the civilian side of the Hanscom AFB airport… Bedford (KBED). Sports team charters was a specialty. The company is long gone from the charter business.

Grumman A-6E with partly-subdued markings.

439th AW C-5A – The Patriot Wing.

Myrtle Beach-based A-10s, still in European Theatre color schemes. Myrtle Beach isn’t a military base any more.

Air Force flight check C-29A was one of four procured, and all went on to serve with the FAA after Air Force use.

Marine Corps CH-53E in between a KC-135R and a C-141B/C Starlifter – the latter type has been retired since 2006.

The AC-130H Spectre fleet has been replaced with newer AC-130U/W/J versions.

This Block 42 F-16C was assigned to the Arizona Air National Guard, but was without unit markings then. Currently, it is still in active use.

This F-16C was assigned to the 70th Fighter Squadron at Moody AFB; the Squadron was inactivated in November, shortly after the air show. It was resurrected as an A-10 squadron for a while, and is now inactive again.

Grumman EA-6A was the interim version between the A-6E Intruder and the EA-6B Prowler. Used during the Vietnam War, this aircraft was used as an Aggressor and jammer by West Coast based VAQ-33 at the time of the show, replacing retired EA-3 Skywarriors.

Grumman A-6E Intruder… all of the A-6s were retired with the arrival of F/A-18 Hornets.

Navy EA-6Bs are all retired as well… the Marines operated the last squadrons to use this stretched A-6 version until earlier this year.

Marine Corps F/A-18A Hornet. VMFA-312 Checkerboards went on to wear “Fight’s On”on many of their jets.

EC-130E-II  communications aircraft. All -E versions are now retired from the U.S. military. This airframe was later converted to a HC-130P special operations aircraft.

Eglin AFB-based F-4E Phantom. This airframe was converted into a QF-4E target and written off in 2002.

S-3B with Desert Storm kill markings.

Pennsylvania Air National Guard EC-130E(RR) Commando Solo aircraft have been replaced with newer EC-130J aircraft.

Collings Foundation B-17G. Destroyed in a crash at Windsor Locks CT in 2019.

Warbird line up at Bedford/Hanscom AFB including a C-47, C-1A, B-17G, and a C-45.

Side-Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR) aboard a Coast Guard HU-25B jet… these rare conversions, based at Cape Cod/Otis ANGB, tracked oil slicks purposely created during the War.

Another look at the rather rare EA-6A, with loads of paint touch-ups for corrosion control. That’s not an electronic camouflage scheme yet.

Air brakes deployed on a Grumman A-6E Intruder.

Maintenance work being done on a warbird B-25 Mitchell.

KC-135 based at Loring AFB wears a Moose zap identifying that it served in the Desert Storm conflict.

AH-64A Apache engine bay.

Army AH-64A Apache on display.

Sikorsky SH-3H Sea King, which was later retired from the Navy, refurbished to SH-3T civilan standards, and was for sale in 2019.

One of the Golden Knights C-31As, used as transporting and platform for the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team. This airframe is now being prepared to be ferried (back) to the Netherlands, after Army retirement.

USMC CH-53E landing at the show grounds.

USAF F-117A made flybys at the show, markings are of the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, at that time from Tonopah, Nevada and then moved to Holloman AFB New Mexico shortly after Desert Storm ended, and being renamed the 49 TFW. Some of these jets are still in flyable storage.

Boeing B-52G from the 42BW, Limestone, Maine. All -Gs were retired shortly after the Gulf War. Loring AFB was closed when the Wing’s bombers were retired and the KC-135s were reassigned.

B-1B making its appearance in the Massachusetts skies, with bright afterburners ablaze. The air shows at Hanscom made nearby I-95 the country’s slowest Interstate as spectators pulled over to watch the show. Massachusetts State Police had their hands full keeping the traffic from stopping and cars colliding with each other.

KC-135R tanker on display. This aircraft is still active in 2020.

Fuddy Duddy, a B-17G, was operated by the National Warplane Museum.

Above and below are a series of views of the static ramps from atop of the huge DC Hangar at Hanscom AFB…

Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 35 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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