Welcome back, Sabre 260!

The F-86 Sabre Pilots Association is proud that the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) has chosen an F-86A as the featured display of their "U.S. Air Force 50th Anniversary" exhibition. The museum provided the following press release:

"As a seperate military force, the US Air Force fought its first war in 1950 in Korea. Air power proved critical when North Korean forces swept into South Korea and US Air Force and Navy aircraft stemmed the tide. Later, the North American F-86A Sabre played a key role. Rugged, fast, and powered by a single turbojet engine, the Sabre quickly dominated its principal rival, the Soviet-built MiG-iS. Equipped with excellent handling characteristics, the Sabre could exceed the speed of sound in a shallow dive. During this conflict, Sabres destroyed almost 800 MiG-15s, while losing fewer than 80 of their own. The Sabre will be on display through May 5, 1997. It bears the markings of the 4th Fighter Wing (as used) during the period prior to June 1952."

This particular Sabre (#48-260) is familiar to many members of our association, having appeared ("NASMs F-86A-5") in the very first issue of Sabrejet Classics (vol 1, #1, Spring 1992). A reader discovered a personal photo showing #260 on the 335th Squadron flight line at K-13 (Suwon) in the spring of 1951, and the photo was published in our Fall 1992 issue. Ion Walter, an Associate Editor, recalls visiting NASMs. Garber Restoration Facility in 1980, and seeing #260 awaiting her finishing touches. Lon told the NASM guide that he had flown that aircraft, and when the guide asked "The F-86?", Ion replied, "Yes, and THAT VERY F-86!". Ion then explained the markings were incorrect for the time period, and soon provided NASM with color slides of correctly marked Sabres; It is believed that NASM used these slides to paint their restored F-86A.

Our Association takes great pride as well, that one of our members, U.S. Representative Sam Johnson (R,Texas), is now a member of the Board of Regents of The Smithsonian Institution. He will be our featured speaker at the reunion banquet in April. The director of NASM is Vice Admiral Don Engen, a three war Navy pilot who is well-versed in the role played by air power in our nation's history. The "USAF 50" exhibition is a credit not only to USAF and the Sabre, but to the Smithsonian as well. It is a clear signn that the problems of the controversial ENOLA GAY exhibit are not likely to be repeated. We urge our members to visit the NASM to say Hello to our old friend, F-86A-5 #260.

No portion of this article may be used or reprinted without permission from the President of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association or the editor of Sabre Jet Classics magazine.

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