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Phancon tours Holloman

160 spectators participating in Holloman’s annual Phantom Society take pictures on Sept. 13, 2016, at Holloman AFB take picture of aircraft fly overs. The tour enabled aircraft enthusiasts, including veterans and non-veterans with aviation backgrounds, to explore various base locations. The tour included an F-16 Fighting Falcon static and briefing, travel to Holloman’s High Speed Test Track, the opportunity to view QF-4s and F-16s in flight, and a visit to Heritage Park to view statics displays of various aircraft flown at Holloman AFB. (U.S Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt Stacy Jonsgaard)

160 spectators participating in Holloman’s annual Phantom Society take pictures on Sept. 13, 2016, at Holloman AFB take picture of aircraft fly overs. The tour enabled aircraft enthusiasts, including veterans and non-veterans with aviation backgrounds, to explore various base locations. The tour included an F-16 Fighting Falcon static and briefing, travel to Holloman’s High Speed Test Track, the opportunity to view QF-4s and F-16s in flight, and a visit to Heritage Park to view statics displays of various aircraft flown at Holloman AFB. (U.S Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt Stacy Jonsgaard)

A QF-4 Phantom II departs Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. on Sept. 13, 2016 in front of 160 spectators participating in Holloman’s annual Phantom Society Tour, at Holloman AFB. The F-4 Phantom II is a twin engine, all weather, tactical fighter-bomber. It originally performed three tactical air roles: air superiority, interdiction and close-air support. The F-4 continues to serve in retirement as the QF-4 Aerial Target, an unmanned, high performance aerial target used for live air-to-air and surface-to-air missile tests. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt Stacy Jonsgaard)

A QF-4 Phantom II departs Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. on Sept. 13, 2016 in front of 160 spectators participating in Holloman’s annual Phantom Society Tour, at Holloman AFB. The F-4 Phantom II is a twin engine, all weather, tactical fighter-bomber. It originally performed three tactical air roles: air superiority, interdiction and close-air support. The F-4 continues to serve in retirement as the QF-4 Aerial Target, an unmanned, high performance aerial target used for live air-to-air and surface-to-air missile tests. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt Stacy Jonsgaard)

All 160 Phantom Society participants pose for a picture Sept. 13, 2016, at Holloman AFB. The Phantom II society is an international non-profit dedicated to the preservation of the history of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighter. The tour enabled aircraft enthusiasts, including veterans and non-veterans with aviation backgrounds, to explore various base locations. The tour included an F-16 Fighting Falcon static and briefing, travel to Holloman’s High Speed Test Track, the opportunity to view QF-4s and F-16s in flight, and a visit to Heritage Park to view statics displays of various aircraft flown at Holloman AFB. (U.S. Air Force Photo by SSgt Stacy Jonsgaard)

All 160 Phantom Society participants pose for a picture Sept. 13, 2016, at Holloman AFB. The Phantom II society is an international non-profit dedicated to the preservation of the history of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighter. The tour enabled aircraft enthusiasts, including veterans and non-veterans with aviation backgrounds, to explore various base locations. The tour included an F-16 Fighting Falcon static and briefing, travel to Holloman’s High Speed Test Track, the opportunity to view QF-4s and F-16s in flight, and a visit to Heritage Park to view statics displays of various aircraft flown at Holloman AFB. (U.S. Air Force Photo by SSgt Stacy Jonsgaard)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE N.M. --

The F-4 Phantom II Society toured Holloman Air Force Base N.M. from Sept. 13-15th.

This year’s tour was the largest tour for this society to date. Holloman is the only base left that still has working, flying F-4s and this was their last flight. The F-4 officially retired in 1996 and now all operational Air Force F-4s have been converted to QF-4 Drones, which serve solely as remotely controlled unmanned targets for air-to-air and ground-to-air weapons systems evaluations, development and testing.

“Our whole mission is to preserve the heritage of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II.” said Jim Thompson, the president of the F-4 Phantom II Society. “The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is one of the most fantastic fighter aircraft that has ever been produced.”

The love for this aircraft is echoed by the 160 front-seat and back-seat aircrew, maintenance, weapons technicians, contractors with Phantom experience, aircraft photographers, and enthusiasts as well as veterans and non-veterans with aviation backgrounds attending this tour. The group saw an F-16 Fighting Falcon static display and briefing, traveled to Holloman’s High Speed Test Track, viewed QF-4 Phantoms II and F-16s in flight, and a visited to Heritage Park to view static displays of various aircraft historically stationed at Holloman.

“This visit was very sentimental to us.” Said Helen Thompson, “bus mom” of the F-4 Phantom II Society. “It’s just bittersweet this time because it’s the last flight.”

The F-4 Phantom II first began flying in 1958 and is well known for its performance in the Vietnam War. The F-4 officially retired in 1996 and now all operational Air Force F-4s have been converted to QF-4 drones, which serve solely as remotely controlled, unmanned targets for air-to-air and ground-to-air weapons systems evaluations, development and testing. QF-4s can also be flown as a conventionally manned fighter.

The F-4 Phantom II Last flight will take place here at Holloman in December 2016.