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Wed, Dec 17, 2003

ICAS 2003 Follow-Up: 'Spooky' Back In Action

By ANN Correspondent Rob Milford

The AC-47 Gunship earned it’s spurs almost 40 years ago flying fire support missions over South Vietnam. Developed from the C-47 it gave a new lease on life to that venerable and legendary airframe. It has always bothered me that aircraft unique to the Vietnam War have gotten, like so many of it’s Veterans, a “short shrift” when it comes to air show performances or appearances. However, the tide seems to be turning.

Not only is the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation flying their fleet of big green machines, but the American Flight Museum in Topeka, Kansas has taken to the sky in their AC-47 “Spooky 71”.

At the ICAS show in Dallas this week, museum members Brooks Pettit and Robert Rice IV (no relation to the CAF’s Bob Rice) were stuck in the far back corner of the exhibit hall, but had an impressive display, with one of the aircraft’s three General Electric Mini-Guns marking the corner. “We’re getting a lot of attention” said Pettit “and hoping to have a better season in 2004.” I asked how their bookings had been for the last couple of years: “We did 23 shows in 2002, but only 19 last year.”

Rice joined in the conversation by pointing out that a C-47 is both big, wearing a full camouflage paint job, but lethal-looking as well, sporting those three mini-guns. “We’re a very affordable for either static or a flying demo” he said “Our costs are far below the B-25’s and A-26’s we compete with, and I think more people are interested in a Vietnam-era aircraft”.

The “Spooky 71” paint scheme is identical to the AC-47 in which Sgt. John Levitow was a crewman, and he received the Medal of Honor for his actions in saving the aircraft in February, 1969.

Rice continued; “we’ve just acquired an O-2A Skymaster, and we’re working to restore it to FAC configuration, including painting THE FAC across the top of the wings.”

The only question that comes to mind…when will we have a Vietnam-era script and aircraft demo, taking in all the jets and choppers and Spads and Spooky’s?

FMI: www.airshows.org

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