Far out man!!! Babs and Bob Redford from the Way We Were...

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Kentucky Wing Aircraft from the '70s and '80s

Written by Greg Bell, Major, CAP

  Recently, I ran into a former Kentucky Wing member from the 1970's on the Internet. I found him via a great aviation photography site called Airliners.net. His name is Gary Chambers and he is a former Kentucky Wing member.  Gary joined the Centenary Composite in 1977, and was later commander of Louisville Composite before moving to Michigan. He continues to be a member today now in the  Minnesota Wing. Sharing images on Airliners.net for non-commercial purposes is one way Gary helps support CAP's external aerospace education. Gary says, "I stay in email contact with Mike Cooper and have recently chatted with Tom Schmidt." I invited him to a squadron meeting since he was going to be down this way to visit his mother but he was unable to attend. He did give me permission to use his photos to help spice up our webpage and to see our CAP roots. Gary was also a WSO in the KYANG who at that time were flying RF-4s.



Cessna R172K Hawk XP aircraft picture. Click to enlarge.

1976 Cessna R-172K Hawk XP. This aircraft was still in the Kentucky Wing when I joined in 1999. It had been damaged as I recall so I never got to fly it. Apparently, a wing member had a hard landing and damaged the fire wall. It is being refueled at Bardstown Airport (BRY) in July of 1979. This aircraft is still on the books with the FAA and resides in Santa Barbara, California. 

  Cessna O-1E Bird Dog (305C/L-19E) aircraft picture

This Cessna O-1E/L-19E  was photographed on the ramp in Frankfort at the Capital City Airport in July of 1979. The Kentucky Army National Guard flew the O-1 in the 60-s and 70's. Researching the N number I discovered that the number has been reassigned to a Mooney in Denver, CO. Based on the mixed paint scheme could be a former USAF or US Army aircraft. The Birddog was used extensively in Vietnam as a forward air control aircraft.


This straight tailed Cessna C-172 was born in 1958. This aircraft was long gone by the time I joined CAP. Supposedly the straight tail 172s are faster than the newer 172s. This aircraft was also photographed in Bardstown during July of 1979. This aircraft is still on the books and shows it is privately owned in Delmar, New York.

Cessna 172 aircraft picture. Click to enlarge.
  Helio HT-295 Super Courier aircraft picture. Click to enlarge. Helio HT-295 Super Courier aircraft picture. Click to enlarge.

This is a 1967 Helio HT-295 Super Courier. Gary had two pictures of this former Kentucky Wing aircraft. Again the pictures are from Bardstown in the summer of 79. In the background of the picture on the left is the Kentucky Wing's Beech T-34A Mentor (more pictures of that to come!) According to the NTSB report this aircraft was damaged/destroyed while departing Mt. Sterling Airport for Louisville Bowman. Their findings were there was brownish water in the fuel system. The accident took place on 20-Nov-80. Apparently the aircraft was repaired and is now living in private ownership in Ottawa, Kansas. Helio Couriers were used in Vietnam due to their STOL characteristics with a minimum controllable airspeed of 28 mph. The USAF designation was the U-10. Most of them were tail draggers. Notice the leading edge slats. This is a BIG and TALL aircraft!

  Cessna 172F aircraft picture. Click to enlarge.

This 1965 Cessna C-172F model is also on the ramp at Bardstown during what must have been a summer SAREX. Notice how the aircraft all had Kentucky painted on them in the 70's. To the far right of this picture you will notice the infamous "blue bag"/"smurf suit" flight suits. This aircraft is still in flying condition and lives at Willow Island private airstrip just south of Finchville, Kentucky.

  Beech T-34A Mentor (A45) aircraft picture. Click to enlarge. Beech T-34A Mentor (A45) aircraft picture. Click to enlarge.

The last aircraft from the 70's is this gorgeous Beech T-34A Mentor. The picture at left is from the same event that the other aircraft were attending at Bardstown. The picture at right was taken in Louisville at the Kentucky Air National Guard base open house in September of 1981. Notice the KYANG RF-4 in the background wearing the Vietnam era camouflage paint scheme. (Acquired by the USAF in 1964). This is the only retractable aircraft I have ever seen in CAP. I bet it was a blast to fly. No room for a mission scanner though.... According to the NTSB report this aircraft experienced a gear up landing in Louisville on Tuesday, September 13, 1983. What a shame. Well there you have it. Back in the day Kentucky Wing had a truly interesting assortment of aircraft. 

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(Page revised on 05-Jan-11