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Tracor Operated NF-4D N430FS, formerly 66-7483, wearing a
striking white and blue scheme, and named 'The Blue Barron'.
© Peter Greengrass
EOS-3 28-70mm K64 250/f8
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PhanCon '99 commenced on 7th October with 'Det 1', an optional tour of Mojave Airport, for a bargain $5 per person! Fortunately the high winds of the preceding day had eased off, making it possible to stand up outside (they don't put all those wind generators on the surrounding mountains for no reason). Following a tour of the totally un-Phantom related Scaled Composites facilities (they build weird looking aeroplanes), it was straight onto the very Phantom related Tracor Flight Systems Inc. ramp.

Tracor operate the largest civilian fleet of Phantoms, currently with four ex-Air Force F-4Ds on strength in the support and evaluation role for their QF-4 drone conversion contract for the USAF. Also present in the TFSI white and blue livery were two F-86 Sabre's and a single T-33. 

F-4D N424FS (64-0965) is operated by Tracor Flight Systems, seen here configured for drogue refuelling trials. The four 'Deltas' were delivered to Tracor in 1991, replacing a small fleet of F-4Cs
EOS-1N 50mm K25 125/F7.1
F-4D N426FS (65-0763), another Tracor machine. The aircraft are flown by civilian pilots in the test and evaluation role for the drone conversion programme.
EOS-1N 50mm K25 125/F7.1
F-4D N427FS (66-7505), also on the Tracor register, wearing the familiar Egypt One camouflage scheme as worn during the final front line USAF years. The radome paint scheme, sweeping back to the cockpit, appears to be that worn by the 179th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Minnesota Air National Guard.
EOS-1N 50mm K25 125/F7.1
QF-4E 66-0338 is a 'veteran' drone, having been delivered to the 475th WEG at Tyndall AFB in February 1997. Still going strong some two  and a half years later, following a guest appearance at PhanCon '98, it now seems to be receiving further modifications from Tracor.
EOS-1N 50mm K25 125/F7.1
F-4G 69-7254/WW, a recent arrival from AMARC, awaits its turn at Mojave for conversion to a 'Red Tail' target drone. The WW tailcode indicates that the aircraft last flew with the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, the F-4 training wing, based at George AFB in California. The white fin cap is believed to indicate the 563rd TFS, which deactivated in October 1989.
EOS-1N 50mm K25 125/F7.1
QF-4G 69-7257 is another recently converted 'Red Tail'. This Phantom is believed to have finished its operational Weasel career with the 35th TFW at George AFB, having been stored at AMARC since the early 90's.
EOS-1N 50mm K64 125/F11
QF-4G 69-0260 is a recent drone conversion. The aircraft last flew operationally with the 561st Fighter Squadron, as part of the then 57th Fighter Wing at Nellis AFB.
EOS-3 28-70mm K25 125/F7.1
Saab TF-35 Draken N168TP of the National Test Pilots School, seen taxiing in after a short sortie. The aircraft is ex Royal Danish Air Force, its former serial being AT-154.
EOS-3 28-70mm K25 125/F7.1
KC-135R 61-0292 of the 22nd Air Refuelling Wing at McConnell AFB, seen awaiting departure from the Mojave flightline. A number of KC-135s are currently at Mojave undergoing upgrade work, believed to include glass cockpit and hose & drogue pod conversions.
EOS-3 28-70mm K64 250/F8
Candair F-86 Sabre 5 N86FS, formerly 23367 of the Sabre Transition Unit, Royal Canadian Air Force. The aircraft is currently in open storage, with the cockpit sealed with sun reflecting foil.
EOS-5 50mm K64 250/F8
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As is usual on a PhanCon ramp tour, there were no restrictions on photography, which enabled some serious 'Kodachroming' of the resident machinery, which included a number of recently or soon to be converted QF-4Gs, a 'veteran' QF-4E present for modification work, two KC-135Rs and a National Test Pilot School Saab Draken. 

Thanks to Jack Callaway for setting up a great tour. Well worth it, despite being held in a town where Motel 6 is the height of luxury accommodation, and Denny's is the best rated eating establishment!
Report:Tim Hunter
Photos:Peter Greengrass
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