THE F-106 ERA (1960 - 1983)

PHOTO FROM "Erv Smalley's & Marty Isham's Convair F-106 Delta Dart" www.convairf-106deltadart.com/

Pictured during a slow day for squadron "spares" F-106A 56-0459 sit next to aircraft from the 2nd, 87th and 5th Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons during William Tell '72.


On 15 January 1968, the Air Defense Command, a organization that the 318th FIS had been affiliated for most of its postwar reactivation was redesignated as the Aerospace Defense Command (ADCOM) as a response to the organizations growing responsibility of detecting and tracking ballistic missiles and space satellites.


On July 1 1968, the 325th Fighter Wing deactivated and relinquished control of McChord AFB to the Military Airlift Command's 62d Military Airlift Wing (MAW). The 62d MAW assumed all host unit responsibilities at the Base with the 318th FIS becoming a tenant organization at the Base. With the deactivation of the 325th FW, the 318th FIS assumed control of the Walla Walla, WA alert site, redesignating Detachment 2, 325th Fighter Wing to Detachment 1, 318th.


Late in 1968, the 318th FIS & the deactivated 325th FW received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious achievement in support of military operations for the period of June 1967 to March 1968. In what was said to be a "very close contest", the 318th placed 2nd in the race for the 1968 Hughes Trophy.


F-106A 59-0065 leads 57-0243, 59-0057, & 59-0146 over Mt Rainer wearing the second tail flash painted on their Delta Darts.


On 23 April 1969, highly decorated 318th FIS pilot Maj. Clyde Falls, Jr. died in the crash of his F-106A, s/n 59-0148 (the last F-106 produced). In Southeast Asia, Maj. Falls spent a little more than one year flying F-105 Thunderchiefs during raids deep in North Vietnam. For his bravery in combat in the skies of Southeast Asia, Maj. Falls earned four Distinguished Flying Crosses fifteen Air Metals and the nation's third highest award for combat valor, the Silver Star.


During the busy increasing tempo actions in the late 1960, the Aerospace Defense Command decided against conducting the bi-yearly William Tell Weapons Meet, but in 1970's, revived the competition to crown the best fighter-interceptor squadron. Proving again to be one of the top fighter squadron's in the Air Force, the 318th attended the 1970 & 1972 editions of the Word Wide Weapons Meet placing third in both competitions. 


In April 1971, Detachment 1, 318th FIS detachment was on the move, transferring down the I-5 corridor to neighboring State of Oregon, leaving Walla Walla, WA and moving to Kingsley Field, OR. This shift was the result of the transfer of the F-106 equipped 460th Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons from Kingsley to Grand Forks AFB, ND. The 460th had been only been reactivated at Kingsley in the F-106 for a little more than one year before its transfer to North Dakota. 


PHOTO FROM "Erv Smalley's & Marty Isham's Convair F-106 Delta Dart" www.convairf-106deltadart.com/

After being strut by lightning during a test flight, Captain Joe Yurkevicz from the 318th was able to return his F-106B back to base with out any further incident.   


In May of 1971, on a routine test flight after a engine change, F-106B S/N 59-0152 was struck by lightning 35,000 feet above Sequim WA, The blast blew off the aircraft's nose cone and caused significant damage to the forward section of the interceptor. The pilot, 318th Quality Control Officer Captain Joe Yurkevicz was unhurt and was able to land the aircraft (with assistance from two F-106's on alert) without further incidents. The F-106B S/N 59-0152, was out of commission for 6 months while it underwent needed repairs at the Sacramento Air Logistics Center in California. The aircraft did return to the squadron and served until October of 1983, and later would later become the one of the first F-106's converted for drone use in 1986.


On  the day before Thanksgiving in 1971, a man calling himself "D.B. Cooper" boarded a Northwest Orient flight in Portland International Airport, OR and once aloft  threatened to destroy the plane if did not receive $200,000 and four parachutes. The plane landed at Seattle-Tacoma Airport where the FBI carried out all of Cooper's demands, hours later the Boeing 727 was refueled and (absence of passengers) in the air headed to Mexico. A short time later, two F-106's from the 318th FIS were scrambled with a task to shadow the hijacked airliner and track its escape to Mexico


While in the air over Washington and Oregon Cooper, with the ransom in hand, jumped from the rear of the plane parachuting into the night and the history books. For many years following the incident until the close of the squadron, members of the 318th would hold an annual dinner; commemorate this incident and their role in the mystery of D.B. Cooper.


Pictured at William Tell '74 s/n 59-0108 can be seen with the ADCOM "A" Award flag applied to the lower section of it's tail.


The 318th was the proud recipient of the Aerospace Defense Command "A" award for the period of 1 August 1971 to 31 December 1972. The "A" Award is given for outstanding accomplishments in operational effectiveness. The 318th also received their second Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for 1 January through 31 December 1973.


In the spring 1974, the Squadron deployed to Howard AFB, Panama in support of "Black Hawk '74" a Joint Task Force exercise designed to evaluate the air defense capability of the Panama Canal zone. What is clearly a testament to the effectiveness of the 318th the squadron participated in their 4th straight William Tell Meet in the F-106, as they did in 1970 & 1972, the Green Dragons found themselves in third place.


The Green Dragons outstanding performance during 1974 and 1975 earned the most prestigious award for an Air Force Squadron with an air defense mission, the Hughes Trophy. A runner up for many years the 318th became the third Squadron of the 25th Air Division to win the award. Since 1953, the prestigious award has been given by the Hughes Aircraft Company the finest air defense fighter unit in the World of a particular year. On 24 January 1976, Gen Daniel "Chappie" James, Commander of Aerospace Defense Command presented the award to the Green Dragons along the squadron flightline. The day also marked the debut of the 318th specially painted F-106 commemorating the United States 200th birthday. The aircraft name "The Freedom Bird" (s/n 58-0776) was a very popular chose for many air shows around the country.

PHOTO by gene Johnson

New tail flashes graced the aircraft of the 318th including F-106A 58-0776 named "The Freedom Bird" specially painted for the Nations Bicentennial.


In 1976, the 318th FIS received a third Outstanding Unit award for the period of July 1974 - June 1976, and their second ADC "A" Award for 1976. After a long string of good news, the Green Dragons found themselves in an unfamiliar place. For the first time since the unit converted into the F-106 the "Green Dragons” failed to qualify for the 1976 edition for the William Tell Weapons Meet. Since the competition was recreated at Tyndall AFB in 1958, the 318th has participated in six of the eight weapons meets held through 1976.


An example of a lower key, but important missions performed by the 318th was the "high speed airlift" mission. In 1977, a squadron F-106 was used to rush rattlesnake bite serum to save the life of a 16 year old snake bite victim in Alaska, two years later F-106s flew smallpox vaccine to Norton AFB, CA to save the life of a airman from that base.

Next Page: F-106 Era - Tactical Air Command (1979-1983)