Text & Pictures: Chris Tonthat (an i2i Production) ©sbap 2021
 
On a lazy Saturday morning of May 15, I happened to be looking through ADS-B on my phone to see if there was anything interesting flying around the KEFD area. Suddenly I noticed a lone T-38 heading south originating from KAFW. Thinking it was just another T-38 heading home to KRND, I didn't pay much attention. About 30 minutes later I checked again and it was not going home but rather, it was heading in the direction of KEFD and it was already half way there. Then I decided to check the details of the aircraft and it turned out to be S/N 68-8121, 'Bully 01' from the 87th Flying Training Squadron, an aircraft that I have been trying to catch for almost two years. I quickly got my camera gear and headed toward KEFD with a purpose.
Before arriving at KEFD, a local spotter buddy confirmed the Talon had already landed and the pilots left to go to lunch. By the time I arrived, 'Bully 01' was parked at the FBO ramp with canopies up just begging for some nice photos to be taken. Not long afterward, the pilots came back from lunch and geared up for a flight home to KDLF some 580 Km away, at least that was my assumption. While taking photos of the pilots gearing up 'Bully 01' for a flight, a flight instructor from a flight school next door mentioned that a few more T-38s were scheduled to come in later in the afternoon. Sure enough, a short while after 'Bully 01' took off, four additional 'Red Bulls' T-38s landed to join 'Bully 01', which also came back after a short flight. Among the four T-38s landed was 'Bully 02', an aircraft that I have been trying to catch for the last four years! Apparently all five Talons from the 87th FTS were performing cross-country training flights and were scheduled for an RON at KEFD on this Saturday. It is rare to see two special livery aircraft at one time on routine training flights so I was very happy to be able to catch them both!

Texas hosts most of the 500 T-38 aircraft still in service with the USAF at three major air bases: Laughlin, Randolph, and Sheppard, and these T-38s carry tail codes LX, RA, and EN, respectively. Sheppard is also a T-38 training base for Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program. With the retirement of the T-38s planned to begin in the next few years to be replaced by the T-7A Red Hawk, Texas is a must destination for spotters looking to capture these great vintage jet trainers in the twilight years.

 
 
'Bully 01' in a special livery that was last worn by the F-106 Delta Dart
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)

The ADS-B screenshot that triggered the event of the day Pilots preparing for a flight after a quick lunch
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
FBO ground crew dancing with 'Bully 01' during preflight checks
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Awaiting ground crew instructions
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Checking flight control surfaces
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
All clear and ready to go!
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
A last look at the Talon while ducking the jet blast
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Executing a U-turn to the taxiway
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Revealing the 87th FIS patch below the windshield last worn by the F-106
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
A tiny display of 'Bully 01' under the front canopy
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Performing a quick rudder check while taxiing
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Roaring takeoff from 'Bully 01'
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Doing a quick touch and go upon returning to KEFD from the short flight
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
More Red Bulls from the 87th FTS arriving
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
'Bully 02' showing a special livery
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Taxiing to the ramp area at the FBO
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Looking for a parking space
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
'Bully 02' sporting a special livery to commemorate 100 years of the 87th FTS lineage in 2017
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Lining up the arriving 'Red Bulls'
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Known as the 87th FS 'Mosquitos' during WW II
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Going through the shutdown procedure
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
S/N 66-326 lining up with 'Bully 01'
 (Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Four Red Bulls abreast
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
'Bully 01' and 'Bully 02'
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Last arrival S/N 70-553
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
T-38C S/N 68-8121
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
T-38C S/N 67-951
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
T-38C S/N 67-926 ready for the RON at KEFD
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
T-38C on approach to 33R at Randolph AFB, home of the Air Education and Training Command in San Antonio, Texas
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Almost non-stop training each day around KRND
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Typical 'Shamu' paint scheme for the T-38s
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
560th FTS 'Charging Cheetahs' S/N 66-328 coming in for a touch and go
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
12th FTW marking aircraft in a 'Smurf' paint scheme
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Shamu S/N 64-263
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
S/N 66-365
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Shamus and Smurfs waiting to take off
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
435th FTS 'Black Eagles' Smurf S/N 68-097
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Smurf followed by Shamu on landing approach
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Black Egles' Shamu S/N 64-183 on approach
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
S/N 68-197 doing touch and go practice
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
An older Talon S/N 63-164
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
S/N 65-379 with the instructor pilot spotting the photographs
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Hopefully there is a smile under that oxygen mask for the camera
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
Easy does it at 1km out from the touchdown zone
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
435th FTS marking on a Smurf to close out just about 1.5 hour of spotting on an afternoon at KRND
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
A Talon from Sheppard AFB captured at KAZA on a cross-country training flight
(Chris Tonthat© * an i2i Production)
  

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