- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 28, 2015

VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) - Judge Jim Osborne is at it again, adding another exhibit to his collection of military history.

The founder of the Indiana Military Museum and several volunteers on Sunday welcomed the facility’s latest exhibit, an F-16 fighter jet.

This airplane, Osborne said, is one of the first F-16s to ever be produced and was retired from flight several years ago. It has taken IMM volunteers more than two years to secure its journey to Indiana’s oldest city.

“It adds a great new aspect to the collection because it brings us up to date, so to speak,” Osborne told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial (https://bit.ly/1wAQpwz ). “Since it is still flying and being used by the U.S., it fits right into present day.

“It’s really quite an achievement for us to get this, and we’re all really happy about it.”

Osborne said the jet still belongs to the U.S. Air Force and always will. It is on loan, essentially, to IMM and will remain here for as long as volunteers can properly maintain and care for it.

The aircraft has been sponsored by local residents Dick and Janet Bond, Osborne said.

The museum had to come up with the money needed to demilitarize the fighter and disassemble it, move it and put it all back together, a process that was finished Tuesday, just two days after it arrived in Vincennes.

“It’s very expensive to move planes like this,” Osborne said, “which is why we very much appreciate our sponsor. It’s a complicated process, one we couldn’t do ourselves.”

Frank Roales, an IMM volunteer and its resident F-16 expert, said the plane was built in 1980 as a part of the first block of F-16s produced. The plane was stationed first at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada then transferred to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. After it was retired, it was sent to the Air Force graveyard, a place dubbed the “Boneyard,” in Phoenix.

This type of aircraft, Roales said, is still in wide use today, and nearly 5,000 of them have been built and distributed all over the world. Known as the “Fighting Falcon” by military personnel, it is capable of supersonic speeds, has a wing-span of more than 32 feet and can weigh up to 45,000 pounds.

Roales said the aircraft should look somewhat familiar to those living here as it was often flown as a part of practice flights out of Hulman Air Force Base in Terre Haute.

“The ones you used to see flying around here, the ones with the flares going off,” he said gesturing above his head with his hands. “Those were F-16s.”

The F-16 is now sitting on a concrete pad just outside the museum’s front doors, the 10th in IMM’s large fleet of aircraft exhibits.

Osborne said they are eager to add more and are looking for additional sponsors. He has his eye on an A-10, more commonly known as a Wart Hog, as well as an F-86 Korean War jet and a Russian/Korean War MiG-15.

“Those are the ones we’re on the lookout for,” Osborne said.

IMM plans to hold a dedication ceremony for the F-16 sometime this spring.

The museum, 716 S. Sixth St., is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Information from: Vincennes Sun-Commercial, https://www.vincennes.com

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