The area of central southern Kentucky has had an important role in aviation history, dating back to the early 1900’s when man took the first flight up to the shuttle missions of present day into space. One of the first men to pilot an aircraft in combat had ties to the city of Bowling Green, Kentucky. There are also ties to the city with an ace pilot during World War I, a pioneering pilot instructor, a hero of the Vietnam War, Commanders with the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds, the Atlantis space shuttle’s Mission Commander, and the pilot and commander of Marine One. These aircraft pilots and the ties they have with the region are recognized and commemorated at the Aviation Heritage Park for future generations to know and be inspired by them.
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The F-111 Aardvark is one of several aircraft are display at the Aviation Heritage Park for visitors to take an up-close look at. This General Dynamic aircraft was a tactical strike aircraft and a medium-range interdictor, which acted as a strategic bomber, electronic warfare, and reconnaissance. The F-111 was developed during the 1960’s, and was introduced into service in the year 1967 by the Air Force of the United States. The aircraft pioneered numerous other technologies for aircraft production.
The Aviation Heritage Park also has a Lockheed Shooting Star, which is a training version of the Air Force’s first operational jet fighter, the F-80. The aircraft is known as well by the name of “T-Bird.” The T-Bird showcased at the park enter service with the United States Air Force in the year 1953. The aircraft arrived at the park on loan in 2011.
The Grumman Panther F9F displayed at the Aviation Heritage Park was flown in service with the United States Navy starting in 1952. Stations for active duty included California, North Carolina, and Japan. In 2007, special permission was given for the restoration of the Panther F9F in the colors of the Blue Angels, as well as to be exhibited at the park.
The Phantom 550, a plane of historical local significance, is the very aircraft that was flown by Brig. General Dan Cherry when he shot down an enemy MiG-21 during the Vietnam War.
Phantom 550. The McDonnell-Douglas F-4D Phantom II displayed at the Aviation Heritage Park is on loan currently from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The Phantom 550 was produced in the year 1967, and ended its service in the year 1989 after more than six thousand airs of flight. In 2005, the aircraft was restored and later displayed in the park in 2008.
The newest addition to the aircrafts displayed at the Aviation Heritage Park is the NASA T-38 Talon, the first supersonic trainer in the world. The first flight of the aircraft was in 1959. The U.S. Air Force has been the longest and largest user of the T-38, however, seven are privately owned and NASA uses the T-38 as well. The primary use of the aircraft within the Air Force is for pilot training.
1825 Three Springs Road, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Phone: 270-421-4885