Might airshow fans get a few more glimpses of F-4 Phantom IIs before they are gone for good? An interesting line in the Wings Over Wayne Airshow at Seymour-Johnson AFB in North Carolina (which hosted F-4s until 1988) certainly begs the question. The airshow’s schedule mentions an F-4 flyby, and the static list also includes an F-4 in the ‘warbirds’ section. The Goldsboro Daily News also lists a QF-4 Phantom as both an aerial performer and static display at the show. However, the official Wings Over Wayne Twitter account makes no mention of a Phantom, which would presumably be a highlight worthy of mentioning.
The USAF painted several of its QF-4 Phantoms, modified to fly without a pilot to serve as targets in missile tests, in special commemorative paint schemes years ago and allowed them to perform mini demonstrations and Heritage Flights at airshows. However, the program was known to be temporary and each year brought promises that it would be the last. Now that nearly all of the QF-4s have been shot down, the USAF has begun transitioning to QF-16s for the same role. Any QF-4s left will have extremely limited support and likely life spans to match. The Collings Foundation does operate an F-4 Phantom as a private aircraft, but it is a rare sight at airshows due to engine problems and its immense cost.