Oregon is truly Eagle Country with Oregon Air National Guard McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle air superiority fighters based at both the 142nd Fighter Wing, Portland Air National Guard Base which is home to the 123rd Fighter Squadron Redhawks and at the 173rd Fighter Wing, Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base (Klamath Falls) which is home to the 114th Fighter Squadron which is an ANG interceptor training unit (their insignia is appropriately an eagle and their motto is “The Land of No Slack“). Aircraft from both fighter wings were on static display at the 2016 Oregon International Air Show (Hillsboro Airport near Portland) and a pair of F-15C’s from the Redhawks took part in the flying display.
To me the F-15 Eagle is the most graceful looking of all the fourth generation fighter aircraft (I may be a little biased there as it is one of my favourite modern fighters!). The Eagle has dominated the skies since the F-15A was first introduced in USAF service in 1976 and with successive avionics, radar and weapons systems upgrades to the F-15C variant (built 1979-1985) still remains a true deadly beauty.
The jewel in the crown of the static displays was a magnificently painted 114th Fighter Squadron F-15C that features the huge head of a screaming bald eagle on either side of the forward fuselage, feathers on the upper and lower wings, and tail surfaces plus special tail markings to commemorate 75 years of Oregon Air National Guard (ORANG) service to Oregon and the United States. She’s a beauty but unfortunately it was located in a rather cluttered area so it was a bit tricky to get photos of the full livery but the ones I have include here give you the idea of how great it looks (that location also meant you could get up close and walk around the Eagle, so all good really)!
A big disappointment was that this mighty ORANG 75 Eagle did not fly on the Saturday session that I attended and apparently only flew on departure on the Sunday. Those fortunate enough to be there at the end of the show on Sunday saw it briefly fly in formation with the Breitling Jet Team but I don’t believe it did a solo pass on the way out? They could have done a fantastic USAF Heritage Flight with the Heritage Flight Museum North American P-51D Mustang “Val-Halla” that was on static display right next to the F-15C. Oh what could have been!
In my mind it should have been the star of both days of flying – a missed opportunity to promote the OANG in the best way possible. Regardless of this it was still great to take a close look at the OANG 75 F-15C and also see some Eagles soar over the Hillsboro Airport, albeit just a short display making us wish for more (unfortunately military budgets are not what they used to be)!