By CMSgt (Ret) Dick Lewis
At the end of the 'Pacer Six' Drone Program there were a few non-flying aircraft left on the Tyndall ramp, 7 F-106 airframes parked in a part of the Tyndall AFB ramp known as the 'Swamp', a temp storage location usually for aircraft in an unflyable condition.
The last 7 F-106's parked in the swamp became known as Swamp Things. Below is a list of the aircraft tail numbers, the last unit they flew with (prior to drones) and the reason for them now being non-flyers. Their complete history and lineage can be found in the Lineage Database.
F-106B 57-2509 from the 159 FIS - Wire bundle fire in lower electronics bay-no structural damage from fire
F-106B 57-2517 from the 186 FIS - Crash Damage
F-106B 57-2543 from the ADWC - Nose Gear Damage
F-106B 57-2545 from the 5 FIS - Cracked Intake Duct
F-106A 58-0786 from the 159 FIS - Cracked Wing Spar
F-106A 59-0047 from the 119 FIS - Cracked Wing Spar
F-106A 59-0105 from the 5 FIS - Cracked Wing Spar
On 11 Mar 2001 - Trucked to Camp Blanding FL for static displayF-106A 59-0105 was trucked off to
In the spring of 1998, the last of the 'flyable' QF-106's departed Tyndall AFB for their final destinations. Aircraft 59-0158, 59-0043 and 58-0774 flew to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, while 59-0023 flew to the museum at Dover AFB.
Left behind, were these seven non-flyable QF-106's sadly relegated to the backline "Swamp" storage area.
However, in early 1999, an unnamed party was contracted to remove the Swamper's and truck them to El Paso, TX, purportedly for air-museum displays. After three aircraft were prepared for transportation, work was halted due to a contract dispute. The aircraft were secured from wind and weather damage, the tools and equipment were put in storage and the work crew disbanded.
In April 2000 six of the seven Swamp Things finally departed Tyndall AFB, FL on several flatbed 18 wheelers bound for El Paso, TX. They were F-106B's 57-2509, 57-2517, 57-2543, 57-2545 and F-106A's 58-0786, 59-0047.
They had been purchase via subsequent negotiation by a private aviation enterprise based in El Paso, TX by David Tokof of GRECO-AIR, later Westernair, and a tentative deal was struck with DRMS to sell the aircraft for purposes of restoring them as non-flying, museum-display grade aircraft. Originally they were planned for restoration with one possibly put back to flyable status, but they were all already de-milled. Only one of the airframes had a 'date plate', 57-2509. The other aircraft 'date plates' were evidently removed at Tyndall AFB. All control stick grips missing. 3 Ejection seats included. Cockpits had some instruments still in them. No canopy actuators as they were part of the ejection system which were removed. New longerons etc. manufactured to attach tails as it came from factory. Enough new parts for 2 complete static display aircraft. One J75-P-19 Engine minus tail pipe, nozzle-afterburner diffuser is on the engine. Tail pipe shroud on-hand. No records, but engine is from an F-106.
Unfortunately David passed away so the restoration plans for these jets changed.
In Mar 2004 the "El Paso Birds" in the private hands of WESTERNAIR Inc., began the process to sell them rather than restore them. These aircraft were indeed eventually all sold off and thankfully to locations who would restore them for display.
On 12 Dec 2016 the LAST two El Paso F-106's were sold -- there were no more remaining in El Paso. F-106B 57-2509 and 57-2543 departed El Paso on 14 Dec 2016 heading to their new homes at the Palm Springs Air Museum and Excelsior High School in the Los Angeles area. Searching for more details from Dick Durand of Western Air Inc.
All these aircraft current status is documented in this sites photo gallery of Static Display Survivors.