As of March, we seem on the verge of a breakthrough, though it may be unwise to suggest it, if we can find some good mechanics. We, of course, are not superstitious, but like Napoleon, we believe in the incompleteness of information and the reality of luck. We have one very craftsmanlike young man who appeared on our hangar apron after finishing a Casa Seata using only crudely translated Spanish manuals originally written with a disdain for detail. We inspected his work and found quite a creditable job. His attention to detail in the very cruddy nosegear compartment of our Sabre "H" has been remarkable. His restoration of the nosegear alone is a work of art that we display in our general offices. Now we are looking at two more folks with F-86 backgrounds who are being laid off by a certain St. Louis based aerospace company whose federal largesse has been somewhat squeezed of late. If we can make a deal with them, we may begin April with cautious optimism.
Our wings and aft section are done. Our landing gear systems are almost done. We have someone to inspect our J73. (A casual inspection shows a most disturbing array of cracks in its aftercase, but weldable, according to the book!) We sure could use an illustrated parts bulletin (J73-GE 3), but we cannot find one. The ejection seat's hardware remains a thorn in our side. Every instrument has to be checked and/or overhauled, but we have no manuals. Terror grips as we face the task of designing an entirely new avionics package capable of coping with modern airspace, as hostile in its demands in some ways as the one the old Sabre was designed to penetrate. We want it to look and act military but also be modern and user friendly. Our limited panel space cries for multifunction displays, and the cockpit's big combining glass would be ideal for a heads-up display. We will never have a true HOTAS (Hands On Throttle and Stick) capability, but there are a few extra grip switches that could do something else since we will not shoot 20mm any more. Then there is our M39 cannon question. We would prefer having the right side open up for a first class display, with belts and ammo. And what about a Mark 12 nuclear weapon? Is there a training shape somewhere we could trade for? The only one I know about is in the National Atomic Museum at Albuquerque. If we seem to have many questions and few answers, that is because we do!
Much water has flowed down the Rock River in Illinois since May 28, 1970 when a Lieutenant Colonel from the Maryland Air National Guard named Joe Radoci landed 53-7250 for the last time at the town named for a nearby crossing. A few more gallons will escape before the old Sabre flies again, but now we are bold enough, for the first time, to assert that it will. As always, we are on the alert for F86H stuff. Call Ed or Bob at Spirit Fighters, Inc. at (314) 532-2701. or Fax us at (314) 532-1486.
(To Be Continued)
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