The fighter plane in the parking lot

Cool. My park and park jet was definitely a contemporary of yours. The whole Orange County area was just suburbanizing then and both the military and aerospace were big industries in So Cal. Although the aircraft were both Grumman and therefore probably built on Long Island NY.

I know you know this, but others might appreciate the following trivia. That article gets the aircraft info almost right.

That’s a swept-wing F-9 Cougar wiki. The F9F Panther wiki was the straight-winged predecessor.

Between those models coming out the Navy changed their designation system from “<aircraft mission letter><arbitrary ID number>< manufacturer ID letter>[-<version number>]” to match the USAF’s: “<different aircraft mission letter>-<different arbitrary ID number>[<version letter>]”.

So F9F-1 through -5 versions are Panthers while F9F-6 and subsequent were renamed F-9F, F-9G, etc. The Cougar article goes into this is some detail.

And yes, per the article, we always called it the “airplane park.” The city held a carnival there every year and even into adulthood it always felt weird to see the posters calling the park by its official name. It’s “airplane park” to me and always will be.

Also mentioned in August 23, 1993 's The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois · Page 1, as belonging to the city since 1971…

An F-105D Thunderchief:


Not to get into a “mine is bigger than yours contest” but when I went to the Imperial War Museum in London, I was astounded at how small a Sopwith Camel was. Even the second world war fighters made it look tiny. The guys who flew such aircraft had steel testicles. And by that I mean the Germans/ Italians/ French/ Americans/ Austrians and whatever nationality got into one of those things (or similar aircraft)

The Camel weighed 930 pounds empty and had a maximum takeoff weight of 1,453 pounds. It had a length of 18.75 feet, and a wingspan of 28 feet, and it flew 113 mph. Trim 140 pounds, and it would qualify as a Light Sport Aircraft in the U.S… A Citabria (which is also aerobatic, hence its name) has an empty weight of 1,110 pounds and a gross weight of 1,650 pounds, so it’s a couple-hundred pounds heavier than a Camel. It’s four feet longer and has a five and a half feet longer wingspan, so it’s a bigger airplane. It will only do 128 mph. Or look at a Cessna 172 Skyhawk or Piper PA-28-150 Cherokee. Both are larger, heavier, and faster than a Camel (or a Citabria), and most non-pilots think they’re tiny.

Driving down the interstate today, right before an exit (that I’m not taking) I look to my right. There’s a small street that parallels the interstate, industrial street - machine shops, scrap metal dealers, auto body places, etc. One of them has a bladeless Huey in their backyard just over the guardrail.

Where I most recently used to live both the nearby VFW posts had AH-1s (Viet Nam era HueyCobra attack helos) up on pedestals.