Warbirds at Lackland Air Force Base

This piece is about magnificient war-fighting planes aka…WAR BIRDS…and the men and women who put themselves in the pilot’s seats and crews to unleash their wrath on our Nation’s enemies from past wars and conflicts.  


When we were parked at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas this past February, we caught up with our RV besties, Tim and Emily from OwnLessDoMore for a couple weeks.  While there, Emily and I took a power walk over to the War Birds Park so she could show me some ‘awesome airplanes’.  She appreciated how much we enjoyed military history so she thought this was just perfect for us to experience.  After they “Timily” (Tim & Emily) set out on the road again, we frequented the park on our walks to score some photos.   


The park’s concrete walkway circled around the ceremonial parade field.  On the outer parameter of the parade field is an amazing collection of ‘War Birds’ of past wars and conflicts.  Nicely manicured landscaping allows visitors an up-close-and-personal look at these incredible aircraft that credits our Air Force’s fighting success.  You can touch the planes and feel their once, vibrant spirit.
Nice to look at, cool to touch but please don’t climb.
This is an ‘outdoor museum’
Chief Master SGT William Petrie


Assembled between various War Birds were ‘…an enlisted story’ plaquards of notable Enlisted Airmen of the Air Force.  Since Lackland AFB is home to the Air Force’s Basic Military Training facility, it’s fitting to have these as inspiration and historical notables of the service’s enlisted heroes to teach our newest generations. We were privileged to attend an Air Force BMT Graduation and wrote a previous blog about our experience; Off We Go into the Wild Blue Wonder. This is just one of the many ‘an enlisted story’ plaques.



One of my favorites was the SR-71 Blackbird!  Like all of the aircraft exhibits, it was cool that we could actually touch and look completely around the Blackbird’s fuselage.  This is one of those, ‘you gotta see it to believe it’. The SR-71 first flew in December 1964; we were only about two years old back then.  It was retired by NASA in 1999.  For over 30 years, this spy plane flew over Mach 3 speeds and was the fastest plane which could outfly any missle.  This bird ranged 3682 miles without fueling.  To put that into perspective, its 2572 miles from New York City to San Francisco.  

The Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird”
The information below is from http://www.sr-71.org/  
Click the link for more information on the Blackbird.
SR-71 Specifications
Manufacturer: Lockheed Aircraft Corporation
Length: 107′ 5″
Length of Nose Probe: 4′ 11″
Wing Span: 55′ 7″
Wing Area: 1,795 ft. sq.
Wing Aspect Ratio: 1.939
Wing Root Chord: 60.533
Wing Dihedral Angle: 0 degrees
Wing Chord: 0.00
Wing Sweep: 52.629 degrees
Inboard Elevon Area: 39.00 ft. sq.
Outboard Elevon Area: 52.50 ft. sq.
Total Vertical Rudder Area: 150.76 ft. sq.
Moveable Rudder Area: 70.24 ft. sq.
Rudder Root Chord: 14.803 ft.
Rudder Tip Chord: 7.833 ft.
Height: 18′ 6″
Empty Weight: 59,000 lbs.
Maximum Weight: 170,000 lbs.
Fuselage Diameter: 5.33 ft.
Service Ceiling: 85,000’+
Maximum Speed: Mach 3.3+ (Limit CIT of 427 degrees C)
Cruising Speed: Mach 3.2
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whittney J-58 (JT11D-20A) with 34,000 lbs. of thrust.
Range: 3,200 nautical miles (without refueling)
Some photos of some other aircraft…
Each of the aircraft were provided with a plaquard describing their historic use:
One of the most notable and heartstring-pulling exhibits is the Medal of Honor Memorial that lists all the Air Force Medal of Honor Recipients:
Let’s not forget highlighting the nostalgic ‘Nose Art’.  Military Aircraft Nose Art began for practical reasons of identifying friendly units. What started as simple creativity evolved to express the individuality often constrained by the uniformity of the military, to evoke memories of home and peacetime life, and as a kind of psychological protection against the stresses of war and the probability of death.  It was a morale keeper for the Troops.

On the opposite side of the ceremonial parade grounds visitors viewing area (bleachers) is the Air Force Military Training Instructors (MTI’s) Building:

More War Birds:

Dan reading an ‘…an enlisted story’ pertaining to this Warbird


At the opposite end of the parade field and on the War Bird Park is a newer memorial (2009) dedicated to our Nation’s Military Working K-9’s.  While we have visited many military memorials nationwide, including several in Washington D.C., this one truly moved us emotionally.  Perhaps it’s our love for animals but mostly it’s because of our appreciation of these ‘war dogs’ that were stationed with our son’s Cavalry units in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since we connected on a personal level, seeing this memorial put lumps in our throat, tears in our eyes and exceptional love in our hearts for our military working dogs.  

The Military Dog Handler’s helmet 
was filled with coin donations from visitors
The back of the memorial wall
is a beautifully etched mural of military working dogs 

from all five branches of the military




These are just a few of the many photos I took when there were very few visitors. The collection is much more extensive with other War Birds that you’ll just have to come see for yourself.  If you’re a military historian or military history enthusiast, we highly recommend visiting this fabulous display of military aircraft.  What an amazing place to not only take in the history of our Air Force but also to enjoy a good walking workout.


If you can, include a Friday so you can witness another 700+ men and women marching into their new rolls as United States Air Force Airmen.  You can read about our experience ‘Off We Went into the Wild Blue Wonder’.





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