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Air Barons

United States
Air Barons A-4 Skyhawk paint schemes

In June 1958, the "Air Barons" aerobatic team was established from VF-725 Squadron stationed at United States Naval Air Station Glenview. The team's main role was to represent the US Naval Air Reserve. In the beginning, the team flew with F9F-6 Cougar jets, but later transitioned to the FJ-4B Fury and then to the AF-1E. In July 1964, they were re-designated as the RAW-72 Squadron and converted to six A-4B Skyhawks. In 1967, the "Air Barons" made their foreign debut at the Canadian International Air Show.

In November 1968, the team received official status as a flight demonstration team. In May 1970, the team transitioned to the A-4L model Skyhawk, which had a more powerful engine and advanced electronic system than previous versions.

On 28 June 1970, during a landing after a display, the leader's aircraft blew a main gear tire. The plane rolled the full length of the runway, and then skidded off the end, collapsing the nose gear and crushing the Skyhawk's nose very badly. Fortunately, the pilot, Jim Mahoney (the team's creator) was not injured.

During the "Air Barons" typical 30-minute performance, they would perform air to air refueling in front of the public. The pilots on the team were all ex-regular naval pilots (pilots in reserve). The team included airline pilots, a school teacher, a financial expert and and art director for "Playboy" magazine. As such, the "Air Barons" pilots were all civilian citizens, so this inspired the team's motto: "Twice a Citizen".

At the end of 1971, the team's parent squadron, VA-209, was disbanded effectively leaving the "Air Barons" without aircraft and support. This put an end to this unique aerobatic team.

Air Barons pilots. A-4B Skyhawk from 1964 to 1970 Air Barons A-4B Skyhawk from 1964 to 1970 Air Barons A-4B Skyhawk from 1964 to 1970 Air Barons A-4L Skyhawk at air show at Ohio in 1971. Air Barons A-4L Skyhawk at air show at Ohio in 1971. Same photo as previous, but with pilots autographs. Send by Richard Laney. Air Barons A-4L Skyhawk from 1970 to 1971 Air Barons A-4L Skyhawk from 1970 to 1971 Air Barons A-4L Skyhawk from 1970 to 1971 Air Barons A-4L Skyhawk from 1970 to 1971 Air Barons A-4L Skyhawk from 1970 to 1971 Air Barons A-4L Skyhawk from 1970 to 1971 Air Barons A-4L Skyhawk from 1970 to 1971 Air Barons A-4L Skyhawk from 1970 to 1971


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