World’s Oldest Jet Returns To Flight

posted in: Warbirds | 25

F-86A Sabre - World's Oldest Jet - Flies Again

The world’s oldest flyable jet, and one of the last remaining F-86A Sabres, S/N 48-178, took to the skies once again today in Rockford, IL. This is a major milestone in the recent acquisition of the Sabre by Heritage Aero Inc, which is based in Rockford, on behalf of a US collector. Paul Wood was at the controls for the two flights made by the Sabre, which was accompanied by a T-33 chase plane. The first flight was originally expected to occur before this year’s EAA AirVenture earlier in July, but was delayed by mechanical issues.

Sabre 48-178 has been through numerous private owners and restorations throughout it’s life, originating in Everett, WA in 1970 to Golden Apple Operations in the UK (1992)and finally to Heritage Aero late last year. These flights are a promising sign that we should see her on the airshow circuit next year!

All images courtesy of David Charles Lindberg

F-86A Sabre - World's Oldest Jet - Flies Again

F-86A Sabre - World's Oldest Jet - Flies AgainF-86A Sabre - World's Oldest Jet - Flies Again

25 Responses

  1. David Meyer

    My Uncle, Roy Lund, was part of Ben Hall’s restoration team that put this aircraft back in the air in the 70s, I grew up with it as a fixture in my world. I cannot tell you how excited I am to see this post!!! I knew it was back in the States, I new what it’s registration was, I have a number of photos of the restoration in the 70s, this is a GOOD DAY!

    • Kevin D

      I worked for Air Race Enterprises back in the 70s and remember Roy. Ben shared the other side of the hanger with us. We called his F86, the Hanger Queen, she was a beautie. I remember when Hoover would come and fly it for the Paine Field airshow. …FUN TIMES.

    • Kevin Durch

      I worked for Air Race Enterprises back in the 70s and remember Roy. Ben shared the other side of the hanger with us. We called his F86, the Hanger Queen, she was a beautie. I remember when Hoover would come and fly it for the Paine Field airshow. …FUN TIMES.

    • Della Kostelnik Juarez

      David & Kevin, my name is Della Kostelnik Juarez… my dad was on the restoration team as well! Dad was killed in a plane crash before it was finished, though. Do you have a copy of all the guys standing in front of the hull when they first brought it up from California? David, I don’t know if your uncle is in that photo but I’d be happy to share a copy with you if you’d like. Kevin… any stories or photos from back in the day? Would love to hear/see them… dellakj@gmail.com

  2. Chris Fajey

    Very cool! But it’s not the last remaining F-86A. 48-0242 is over in England, and Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection is restoring Planes of Fame’s old Korean War Vet 48-1217 that should be flying next year.

    • AnthonyR

      Updated! Thank you for spotting that mistake. I wasn’t aware of FHC restoring an F-86A as well; how interesting. I’m going to have to keep an eye out for that buzzing around the Northwest in the coming years!

      -AR

  3. Jerry Conley

    Great jet, but not even close. For the 2016 season Vampire Airshows will be flying the Worlds Oldest flying jet the DH-115 De Havilland Vampire, DHVampire.com.

    • Art

      I agree with Jerry, there are other, more ‘senior’ jets flying or in the works.

      Be careful, claiming “The World’s ……” anything. People come out of the woodwork to prove you wrong.

  4. Mike Shreeve

    Not even close Jerry Conley ? The Vampire two-seaters were mostly built in the 1950s, well after this early-model F-86A. I can’t tell when yours was built as the website to which you refer is made up of shots of WZ507 in the UK, not your example.

    • Manuel

      There are 5 Gloster Meteors still flying, they first took to the air on March 5th 1943. There are over 80 De Haviland Vampires still airworthy and they first flew on September 20th 1943. But the oldest jet would be the Heinkel He 178, it first flew on August 27th 1939.

  5. Chris Whitton

    The Australian air force flew these as well. Good to see one still crankin the skies.

  6. Brett Gourley

    My dad used to share a hanger with Ben Hall. I sat in the cockpit many times as a kid. There are so many stories associated with Ben and this aircraft, It is wonderful to see it airborne. I have had contact with Ben in the recent past. He was living in a retirement apartment complex near me. I will try to get this article to him if he is still with us.

    • Gay Ebert

      So sorry to tell you that Ben passed away over a year ago. He loved that plane and would be so happy to know it is going to be in air shows again. He is my step father and I sure miss him.

  7. Robert Rohr

    Sorry to say this but while it might be one of the oldest Jets flying it’s not the oldest F-86A. When Ben Hall rescued this airframe he also rescued three all together 47-606 which is the oldest F-86A in the World, 47-178 and 49-1324. Also Planes of Fame also rescued a few A models 48-252 and 49-1217. Also sitting on NAS China Lake are four F-86A including one that is reported to be one of the first 10 airframes.

  8. Rick Harris

    Nice job , Paul. Some of the examples some of you folks cite may be older but the key word is FLYING. The title of oldest may hold for a while but the final word will be when Paul Allen’s ME262 oes around the pattern. There are none older.

  9. Chris Brame

    Wonder which will be finished and fly first – Allen’s Me262 or Planes of Fame’s P-59?

  10. Duncan Curtis

    I can assure all the above that ‘178 most definitely IS the world’s oldest flying jet: I have done a great deal of research into ‘178 over the years, and CURRENTLY the ex-Meteor Flight T.7 is the second-oldest, with a few snapping at her heels.

    Just because the Meteor (and Vampire for that matter) looks ancient, doesn’t mean they’re older!

  11. Mike Solon

    I seen an operational F86 flying at Ducksford in England powered by a GE J47 Engine. Wondering which is older ?
    I have J47 Technical Orders in our GE Library.

  12. Duncan Curtis

    This is the order (oldest first):
    F-86A N48178/48-178
    Meteor T.7 G-BWMF (UK – just sold I think)
    Meteor F.8 ‘Winston’ – Temora, Australia.

    I don’t think there are any 1949-flown jets airworthy, and currently nothing prior to this.

    Currently.

  13. Duncan Curtis

    This is the order (oldest first):
    F-86A N48178/48-178
    Meteor T.7 G-BWMF (UK – just sold I think)
    Meteor F.8 ‘Winston’ – Temora, Australia.

    I don’t think there are any OTHER 1949-flown jets airworthy, and currently nothing prior to this.

    Currently.

  14. Duncan Curtis

    …an Me-262 built just a decade or so ago.

    Oldest jet, not oldest design.

  15. Mike Sallade

    My father, Paul Sallade had the great fortune to serve as an exchange officer with the Royal Marines after distinguishing himself as a Corsair pilot in the Korean conflict . While in the UK he spent some time aboard the Albion, a British carrier. He also had the opportunity to fly the Vampire. He and his co-pilot Pete Hales were forced to bring a Vampire into a pasture in the Yeoville area after an engine failure. Fortunately, they both walked away and the plane was able to be recovered.
    Anyone have any more info on this event?
    Thank you.
    Mike Sallade , msallade@msn.com

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