Memories of my youth: Phantom Sounds

My time in the Air Force pretty much coincides with the heyday of the F-4 Phantom. The 366th TFW flew F-4Cs out of DaNang AB, my first base level assignment. The 48th TFW at RAF Lakenheath transitioned from F-100s to F-4Ds when I was next door at RAF Mildenhall. My own 51st TFW flew F-4Es out of Osan AB in Korea, my last base-level assignment.

The early F-4’s had leading edge flaps to help maneuverability. In later models, these were replaced with two-position leading edge slats, which reportedly gave the same maneuverability with more stability. What they took away was the distinctive deep whistling sound, almost a moan, that an F-4C would make as the flaps were cycled in the final turn in the landing pattern. Despite hours of searching, I’ve only been able to find one video that halfway captures this sound (and then only 7sec worth), at

Boise, Idaho, in 1988.

In case it doesn’t queue up properly, the sound starts at the 2:24sec mark.

The sound of an F-4C in the landing pattern, and the sound of a C-130 “low-speeding the outboards”, are the quintessential sounds of my Air Force career.

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2 Responses to “Memories of my youth: Phantom Sounds”

  1. Kurt Kremer Says:

    But was it a menacing sound?

    Seriously, I enjoy these windows into your life. Hope you keep them coming

    • FoundOnWeb Says:

      Glad you like them. The series will be updated as nostalgia strikes.

      As for the sound, it was more mournful than menacing. Particularly haunting when you hear them coming back from a night mission, and you can imagine them alone in the cockpit, surrounded by the glow of the instrument panels, with the long lines of the runway markers ahead of them.

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