30 Incredible Facts about United States Air Force

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1 Wild Weasel

Wild Weasel

Wild Weasel was a little-known unit in the United States Air Force whose motto was “You’ve gotta be shit*ing me”, which was what some of the crews said when they were told of their mission. It was a unit dedicated to hunting down anti-aircraft missile launchers using aircraft.

2. 80% of the SR-71 Blackbird’s thrust at Mach 3.2 was generated from its ability to harness energy from the shock waves it created, thanks to special retractable spikes in front of its inlets. Its engines generated the other 20% of thrust.

3. During the opening ceremony of Ottawa International Airport’s new terminal in 1959, a USAF F-104 Starfighter did a supersonic flypast. The resulting sonic boom shattered nearly all the glass in the airport and caused significant structural damage, delaying the opening for another year.

4. In 2013, an Iranian F-4 Phantom was on course to intercept a U.S. drone flying in international airspace off Iran. An U.S. F-22 Raptor caught up to F-4, flew under their aircraft to check out their weapons load all while the Iranians had no clue they were there. US pilot then pulled up on their left wing and told the Iranian pilot to go home.

5. The United States Air Force Pararescue (PJs) use the sound bite of “Leeroy Jenkins” from World of Warcraft to notify themselves of an upcoming medevac mission.

6 C-17s


The Air Force learned that by flying its C-17s in a large V formation similar to geese, they saved more than 10% of fuel or millions of dollars.

7. A decade before the SR-71 first flew; the US Air Force had a Mach 4.3 capable Ramjet which was created to test US Air Force’s own air defenses. The AQM-60 Kingfisher was so effective that the project was canceled to avoid embarrassing their air defenses any further. The man who designed it went on to create the SR-71 spy plane.

8. The U.S. Air Force refused to cooperate with the production of the movie Iron Eagle since it involved the theft of an aircraft for a rogue mission against a middle eastern nation. The Israeli Air Force supplied all the aircraft for the movie.

9. The United States Airforce maintains a fleet of Boeing E4-B “Doomsday” planes. They are capable of being airborne for a week, cost nearly $160,000 per hour for the Air Force to operate, and have a 5 mile long trailing wire antenna to communicate with nuclear submarines.

10. Every Christmas since 1952 the US Air Force has airdropped gifts over the islands of Micronesia, making it the oldest ongoing Department of Defense mission and the longest running humanitarian airlift in the world.

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11 F-35 fighter helmet

F-35 fighter helmet

A single helmet for the Air Force’s new F-35 fighter costs over $400,000.

12. In 1958, United States Air Force lost a 7,600-pound (3,400 kg) Mark 15 nuclear bomb in the waters off Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia, United States. It has never been recovered.

13. In 1958, the US Air Force made plans to detonate a nuclear bomb on the moon and wanted it to visible by the naked eye on earth. They hoped it would boost American morale to counter the USSR’s advances in the space race.

14. The United States Air Force F-22A Raptor stealth fighter jet has a radar cross-section smaller than a bumblebee, making it nearly undetectable. Its radar changes frequencies over 1,000 times per second to deter detection by enemy forces.

15. In 1985 the USAF shot down a satellite with a missile launched from an F-15.

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16 USAF Pipe Band

USAF Pipe Band

The United States Air Force has a Pipe Band that was formed in 1950 from bagpipe players of Irish and Scottish ancestry exclusively. The Band played at President Kennedy’s funeral.

17. The F-22 and Eurofighter Typhoon have been pitted against each other in mock dogfights in the past. The Typhoons proved to be surprisingly effective against the American aircraft and that encounter the USAF “decided they didn’t want to play anymore.”

18. A-10 Warthog is designed such that it can fly with just one engine, one tail, one elevator, and half of one wing missing.

19. In 2004, an F-16 accidentally strafed a New Jersey school with cannon fire on a training mission.

20. The cargo hold of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is one foot longer than the entire length of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk.

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21 McDonnell Douglas F-15

McDonnell Douglas F-15

The McDonnell Douglas F-15, in 37 years of service has never been shot down in the air to air combat. It has a record of 104 kills to 0 losses.

22. In 1963, a series of tests proved that the Hercules C-130 transport aircraft could land on and take off from the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal.

23. In 1948 the United States Air-force tested the XF-85 Goblin, a jet fighter designed to be deployed and retrieved from a bomber’s bomb-bay. The bomber could carry a maximum of 4 XF-85s, turning it into a “Flying Aircraft Carrier.”

24. The B-52 Stratofortress has been operated by the USAF since 1955 and it isn’t expected to be retired until the 2040s.

25. In 1969, U.S. Air Force successfully deployed a reconnaissance drone named Lockheed D-21 which was capable of going Mach 3.3.

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