Holloman AFB Open House 2011


On October 8, 2011, Photorecon had the opportunity to attend the 2011 Holloman AFB open house, the Legacy of Liberty air show.  Any air show at Holloman AFB holds a special place in my heart.  As a young man growing up in central New Mexico, Holloman AFB was the first air show I attended; the early trips out to the Base fostered a lifelong interest in aviation that developed into a passion for aviation photography.  This was the base at which my mother and father gave me my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic 110.  My father was a construction supervisor in New Mexico working close to the base; sometimes I would tag along. On many occasions we would stop for lunch to  watch daily flight operations. This was around the time the 49th Fighter Wing was transitioning from the mighty F4 Phantom to the very modern (at the time) F-15 Eagle.

I attended the first air show to feature the new F-15 and one pilot,  let me sit in the cockpit of a fresh-off-the-production-line Eagle. I cherish those memories; heading out to the show on Saturday, with my 80-years-young mother in tow, (yes that’s Mom in the pics) brought back many fond memories of those wonderful times.

The 2011 Legacy of Liberty air show was a wonderful way to showcase the dedication and professionalism of the men and woman serving at Holloman. Flight performances that day included the following:  Tim Weber -Geico Extra 300s; Robert Pezhold -L-39-C; John Klatt -ANG Extra 300L, F22 & B2 Flyby, Tornado Demo with air-to-air refueling display; Herb Baker -T-28 “DITTO”; Dan Buchanan’s Flying Colors Airshows; Greg Coyler Lockheed T-33, Pacific Prowler   B-25 Mitchell Bomber,  F-16 Viper EAST Demo Team, A surprise B-2 Fly over , Matt Younkin-Twin Beech 18, F-4 Phantom II Demo and Heritage flight;  eventually followed by a wonderful display of the USAF Thunderbirds.  The flying portion of the show was complimented by a fully-stocked ramp of static display aircraft ranging from a Grumman Albatross to the F-22 Raptor. BAE Systems Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer Road Show made an appearance, displaying a fully-loaded 18-wheeler for the public to tour and 2 RAF Hawk AJTS trainer aircraft. Although the HAWK Aircraft did not fly a demo, I did get to fly the HAWK AJTS simulator. I would also like to thank the BAE staff, for providing us a full briefing on this unique aircraft that very well could be the future of USAF pilot training.  The 301st fighter Squadron known as the “KATS” had a few Raptors on display. I only wish it could have been a red tail raptor, as the 301st  is well know as an original RED TAIL sq. dating back to WWII.

Making all this access possible and providing a secure, elevated photo platform to shoot from was the wonderful Holloman PAO staff. Every year they go out of their way to accommodate us and our media requests.

A special “thank you” goes to Mr. Arlan Ponder and the Holloman PAO  staff; you guys are the best.


Here is a  bit of  Holloman AFB history.,

Holloman AFB is located in New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin between the Sacramento and San Andreas mountain ranges.

One visit to the area and you will understand why New Mexico was named “The Land of Enchantment” and why Holloman is still a major front line ACC base and training location for pilots from around the world.

Holloman history dates back to 1942 with the establishment of Alamogordo Army Air Field, originally slated as a base for the RAF British Overseas Training program. This all changed with the events of December 7, 1941. US military leadership viewed the base as a prime training location to train its own pilots. From 1942-1945 Alamogordo AAF served as the training grounds for over 20 different types of aircraft from the B-17, B-24 and the mighty B-29. The famous 450th Bombardment group called the base home; this group went on to serve in nearly every major combat operation in WWII. The 450th earned two distinguished unit citations, along with 11 campaign credits.

After WWII the base’s future seemed uncertain. In fact, rumors abounded concerning the closure of the site.  In 1947 Air Materials Command announced the field would become a major test site for pilotless aircraft, guided missiles, and other research aircraft. On January 13, 1948 the base was renamed Holloman Air Force Base, in posthumous honor of Colonel George V. Holloman, a pioneer in guided missile research.

For the next 25 years, the site became known as the Holloman Air Development center and later, the Air Force Missile Development Center. Holloman launched many missiles including the Tiny Tim (the first Army rocket) ,the Rascal, Aerobee, Falcon, Mace and Shrike.

The Holloman research legacy continued through the1950’s and ‘60s, as many history making events took place at the base.  In 1954, Lt. Col.(Dr) John P. Stapp received the nickname “Fastest Man on Earth” when he rode the Sonic Wind No.1 to a speed of 632 mph. Additionally, Captain Joseph W. Kittinger  stepped out of an open balloon gondola at 102,800 feet on August 16, 1960, to test high-altitude bailout techniques. Capt Kittinger’s jump lasted 13 minutes and reached a speed of 614 miles per hour. That Jump broke 4 world records: Highest open gondola manned balloon flight, highest balloon flight of any kind, highest bailout and longest free fall.  Col. (Joe) Kittinger has since become a personal friend of my brother Steve “Dr Sky” Kates. We have had the honor to meet and talk with Joe Kittinger at his home in Florida. Hearing firsthand the details of  his  high altitude bailout was living history at its best.  Another noteworthy event took place at Holloman, on November 29, 1961:  Enos, a chimpanzee, trained at Holloman’s Aero-Medical Laboratory. Enos went on to be the first U.S. chimpanzee specimen launched into space.

A new era began at Holloman in July 1968, with the arrival of the 49th Tactical Fighter wing, flying the F-4D Phantom II.  In 1977, the 49th transitioned to the F-15 Eagle, and the eagle ruled the roost at Holloman until April 1992 when the 49th transitioned to the F-117 Night Hawk Stealth Fighter.  Night Hawk operations continued until June 2008 when the 49th once again transitioned to a new Air Superiority Fighter, the F-22 Raptor.  In addition, Holloman is home to the German Tactical Training Center (GAF TTC), activated as a tenant unit in 1996. Today the Germans fly and train in the Panavia Tornado aircraft.

The 49th Fighter wing and associated units based at Holloman make up the cutting edge of today’s United States Air Force.  The wing provides combat-ready Airmen, F-22 Raptors, and trains MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper pilots and sensor operators. Additionally, the wing delivers Air Transportable Clinics and Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources while providing support to more than 17,000 military and civilian personnel to include German Air Force Flying Training center operations. Holloman personnel also assist White Sands Missile Range personnel in supporting the White Sands Space Harbor as an alternate runway for past NASA space shuttle missions. The space shuttle Columbia landed at WSSH March 30, 1982 and 1,400 Holloman personnel supported that landing.


Joe Kates

Joe Kates is the founder of Photorecon. Joe has been into aviation since he was a child and has a incredible amount of knowledge to do with planes or aviation in general. Today Joe is the owner and Managing Editor of Photorecon.

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