T-33 Shooting Star

F-35A Lightning II, Vermont Air National Guard

A native Californian, Gregory "Wired" Colyer took his first flight at age 7 in a Cessna 172 with Dr. Lee Schaller out of the Schellville airport in Sonoma, California.  Hooked ever since, Greg has been flying for almost 3 decades after earning his license in 1982 while serving in the US Army from 1982-1987.

After flying with his friend Kay Eckhart, in one of Kay's Lockheed T-33s in 2007, Greg set his sights on an upgrade to the U.S. Air Force's first operational jet and a real piece of U.S. aviation history.  Acquiring a T-33 and naming it Ace Maker in 2008.  Then founding the nonprofit (501c-3) T-33 Heritage Foundation to help in the preservation of the type.

ABOUT THE AIRCRAFT
In January 1948, a cost-conscious Air Force awarded a contract for 20 TF-80C jet trainers and the designation was later changed to T-33A. The original trainer version was an F-80B fuselage with a 26-inch section added forward of the wingroot.  Another 12-inch section was added forward of the rear fuselage for balance and stability.  Additional differences between the P-80B and the TF-80C were:  smaller 85 gallon fuselage fuel tank, nylon fuel cells, two .50 caliber guns instead of six, improved air conditioning, and of course dual fight controls.  Also a six gun nose could be fitted to the T-33.  Early models even had 1000 lb. bomb shackles on the wings.  The only major change to the T-33 was the addition of Fletcher-type wingtip tanks.

On November 8, 1950, the first jet-vs-jet aerial combat took place between a P-80 Shooting Star and a MIG-15 in the area in northwest Korea later known as "MIG Alley."  Several days prior to the fateful day, MIG-15 jets had been encountered by U.S. AF F-51Ds on patrol near the Yalu River area.  On the afternoon of 8 November, Lt. Russell Brown piloting his Shooting Star of the 16th Fighter Squadron, outmaneuvered two attacking MIG-15s, tacked onto the tail of one of them, and poured .50 caliber fire into him until the MIG exploded.  It was the first of 827 MIGs to be shot down in Korea and the first jet-vs-jet victory ever.  Units in Korea also used the TF-80C/T-33 and the RF-80. TF-80Cs and T-33s were used for photo-recon and pilot familiarization flights.

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