Former Air Force One crew members hold special event at museum Monday

Published: Friday, February 17, 2017 @ 1:04 PM
Updated: Saturday, February 18, 2017 @ 3:46 PM

Crew members who flew aboard Air Force One presidential aircraft from the Nixon to Obama administrations will answer the public’s questions on Presidents Day at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The former crew members will be at the museum from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.

The museum houses the largest collection of U.S. presidential planes, from the first that flew President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the propeller-powered VC-54C nicknamed the Sacred Cow, to SAM 26000, a Boeing 707 known as President John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One.

The presidential collection was one of the centerpieces of a new $40.8 million hangar that opened in June 2016.

“This program allows people who are associate with these presidential aircraft to engage our visitors with personal stories and interesting facts about the history and heritage of this magnificent presidential collection,” Teresa Montgomery, chief of the museum’s special events division, said in a statement.

RELATED: Museum aims to add latest Air Force One to its presidential fleet

Other presidential aircraft include President Harry S. Truman’s plane nicknamed “The Independence,” a VC-118 that was a military version of the pioneering DC-6 commercial airliner; and President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s air transport dubbed “Columbine III,” a Lockheed L.-1049 Super Constellation.

SAM 26000 is among the most famous aircraft in the world serving eight presidents, from Kennedy to Bill Clinton.

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Air Force calls on hackers to find cyber vulnerabilities for a bounty

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 11:36 AM


            Center for Cyberspace Research graduate students talk before a 2013 cyber exercise at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. TY GREENLEES/STAFF

The Air Force is looking for a few good hackers.

A cyber competition will launch soon to urge computer hackers to find vulnerabilities in Air Force public websites, much as a Department of Defense contest dubbed “Hack the Pentagon” did last year.

“We’d like to find out which vulnerabilities are out there that we have not yet found using our own processes,” said Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

SPECIAL REPORT: Cyber warriors can stop cars, shut-off water, unlock jail cells

The competition is open to “vetted computer security specialists” across the United States and “white hat” hackers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, according to the Air Force.

“This is the first time the (Air Force) has opened up our networks to such a broad scrutiny,” Peter Kim, Air Force chief information officer, said in a statement. “We have malicious hackers trying to get into our systems every day. It will be nice to have friendly hackers taking a shot at, and most importantly, showing us how to improve our cybersecurity and defense posture.”

On any given day, the Defense Information Systems Agency contends day with 800 million cyber incidents “that threaten the network,” Lt. Col. James Brindle, a Pentagon spokesman, has told this newspaper. In an inner layer of cyber defense, the Air Force blocked 1.3 billion “malicious” cyber intrusions last year alone, according to Lt. Col. Mark Reith, Center for Cyberspace Research director at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

AFIT trains hundreds of cyber warriors every year for the military.

How much money the Air Force competition will award to hackers hasn’t been announced, but the Department of Defense cyber hack contest awarded between $100 to up to $15,000, officials said.

“It’s based on the severity of the vulnerability they find,” said Maj. Scott McLaughlin, an Air Force cyber operations officer.

“Hack the Pentagon” drew 1,400 hackers and awarded $75,000, figures show.

RELATED: Need a Job? U.S. military looking for cyber warriors

HackerOne, a security consulting firm, will run the Air Force contest.

Participants may register starting May 15 at the HackerOne website. The competition will run May 30 to June 23. The Air Force says military personnel and government civilian workers may not receive compensation, but may participate in the competition with supervisory approval.

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EXCLUSIVE: Top Air Force general says ‘all programs are at risk’

Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 @ 7:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 @ 8:16 PM

The absence of a defense budget is the biggest threat the Air Force faces today as it grapples with adversaries and threats around the world, the service branch’s top general says.

In an exclusive interview Tuesday with this news outlet, Gen. David L. Goldfein addressed, among other priorities, the consequences a lack of a budget would cause, the future of technology development at the Wright-Patterson headquartered-Air Force Research Laboratory, and welcoming input from President Donald Trump to lower the cost of weapon systems without sacrificing capability.

RELATED: Air Force redirects more money to small businesses; area firms benefit

The four-star general was at Wright-Patterson to mark the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raiders historic attack against Japan in World War II.

Under current spending caps, the Air Force will confront a $2.8 billion shortfall if Congress and the White House fail to agree to a budget deal and continue to spend at last year’s levels under a continuing resolution that expires at the end of this month.

“For a service chief, the most important thing for me in terms of trying to really deliver for the nation is predictable funding because without it you just can’t plan,” he said. “If you’re going from year to year, it’s almost impossible to do any kind of long-term planning and it wreaks havoc on industry who is trying to deliver for us.

“Without a budget, all programs are at risk and we’ll have to make the strategic trades a service chief has to make between capability, capacity and readiness,” Goldfein added. “That’s the sandbox that we operate it. My ability to make those kind of flexible trades, to be able to deliver what the nation needs is dependent on being able to get a stable budget that I can count on for more than a year or two years.”

RELATED: Wright-Patt loses out on a request for millions in state dollars

‘Significant impact’

Capping spending levels at last year’s budget will impact Air Force readiness and operations, he said. The four-star general has told Congress that could mean everything from grounding planes to delaying maintenance to postponing retention bonuses.

“It’s going to have a significant impact on our readiness to be able to do all those jobs simultaneously,” he said.

Unless Congress acts, the federal government faces a partial government shutdown April 28 when funding under the current spending resolution runs out.

The last shutdown sent thousands of Wright-Patterson civil service workers home for days in 2013.

The youngest civilian workers were hit the hardest, a situation Goldfein said he wants to avoid. Some faced hardships such as not having a paycheck to pay rent, he said.

“It was devastating,” he said. “… The worst part is that many of them decided that they couldn’t hang with this business of working for government and we lost really talented young men and women. We broke faith with them. They’re the ones I’m most concerned with in a government shutdown.”

The Air Force is able to meet a hot spot of demands around the globe but the lack of a budget creates risks, the former fighter pilot said.

“Make no mistake, when it comes to taking the fight against ISIS or assuring our allies and partners in the Pacific or deterring bad behavior around the globe, we’re able to meet and succeed in our global commitments today,” Goldfein said. “And that’s a statement not only for the Air Force, that’s a statement for the Joint Force.

“The challenge is as we start moving more and more towards simultaneous activity then our challenge with current readiness begins to become more problematic,” he said. “So what you’re hearing from all the service chiefs is, in this global security environment, that continues to get more dangerous not less, presents even higher risk if we don’t get a budget that allows us to fund the training and fund the readiness that we desperately need to maintain to be able to keep these global commitments.”

Trump criticizes aircraft

President Donald Trump has criticized the cost of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and a future Air Force One Boeing 747-8 jetliner, but Goldfein indicated he welcomed the input.

“For one I’ll tell you that I’m actually very appreciative of the president’s interest and anything that can help get the costs of these programs down lower, certainly for a service chief is win-win,” he said.

“… To have pressure that allows us to be able to procure weapon systems at lower cost is really helpful. The biggest challenge that I see in the future that we’ve really got to work on is the life cycle costs and the sustainment costs because quite frankly that’s what eats your lunch over time.”

Citing the work of AFRL, the chief of staff said he’s focused on creating a network to connect different capabilities in new ways on a multitude of platforms and weapon systems.

“The reality is our Air Force of the future is it’s going to be both old and new,” he said. “It‘s going to be manned and unmanned, it’s going to be some portion of its that penetrating and some of it that’s stand-off. It’s going to have some of it that’s conventional and some of it that’s unconventional…”

To bolster its workforce and meet rising demands, the Air Force has targeted adding 4,000 additional airmen on active duty in critical areas such as maintainers, nuclear and cyber jobs. Goldfein anticipated a corresponding growth in personnel numbers in the Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, and civilian workforce, but did not have specifics.

He also said he’s focused on landing a budget deal before the Pentagon and Congress consider a round of base closures, but he added realignment of missions is as important as talk of closing bases.

While he did not talk specifics about how Wright-Patterson might fare in a base realignment and closure process, he did say the “absolutely incredible support” the Dayton region has shown airmen and their families ranks as a factor.

“That’s as important as anything we else we do when it comes to how a base fares in this kind of a discussion,“ he said.

Crowds swarm AF museum as B-25s arrive to honor Doolittle Raiders

Published: Monday, April 17, 2017 @ 5:40 PM

Dennis Greenlee peered through a fence early Monday morning to see wings soar and hear the rumble of 11 B-25 Mitchell bombers land at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force to mark the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raiders mission against Japan.

“It’s very, very thrilling to me,” said Greenlee, 81, an Army veteran from Gastonia, N.C., who arrived before the airfield gates opened. “I don’t know how they took off from an aircraft carrier. That’s what amazes me knowing they weren’t coming back to an aircraft carrier.”

Greenlee was among an estimated 5,000 people who turned out Monday for the rare sight of so many B-25s appearing together.

“You will never see this many B-25s again,” said Mick Vision, 78, of Centerville and a retired Navy commander as he scanned the array of B-25s on the runway.

Eighty U.S. Army Air Forces airmen volunteered for the April 18, 1942, secret mission to climb aboard 16 B-25 bombers launched off the deck of the USS Hornet to bomb Tokyo and other cities to retaliate for the Japanese attack against the U.S. naval fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The daring raid created little damage but boosted sinking American morale as the Japanese military advanced across the Pacific and forced Japan to bring troops home to defend the homeland. Legendary American airman Jimmy Doolittle led the raid, which ended for most with crash landings or bailing out over China.

RELATED:World War II 75 years later: 101-year-old Dayton native relives Doolittle Raid

The sole surviving Raider, 101-year-old Richard E. Cole, a Dayton native and co-pilot to Doolittle, is expected to be at a Tuesday memorial ceremony at the museum to mark the historic anniversary.

“He’s like a rock star,” said William Alan Miller, 53, who has flown with Cole in a B-25 in recent years.

“He has consistently been the most active because he feels he should carry on Doolittle’s legacy, and no one knew 25 years ago he’d be the last man standing but that’s part of what motivates him,” said Miller, who flew aboard the B-25 nicknamed “Betty’s Dream” from Houston, Texas, for the anniversary.

‘Most thrilling experiences’

Ben Best co-piloted the B-25 nicknamed “Yankee Warrior” from Grimes Field Airport in Urbana, where the planes landed this weekend from Texas, Minnesota, New York and Missouri, among other places. Part of the fleet of the Yankee Air Force, the plane Best flew is based at the historic Willow Run airfield near Detroit. Best also is a captain in the Michigan Air National Guard and flew an A-10 Thunderbolt II in Iraq.

“I’ve flown combat missions, I’ve flown flybys with the Air Force and flying in here today was probably one of the most thrilling experiences of my life, just getting that many B-25s taking off in close interval at Grimes and coming down here at Wright-Patt,” said Best, 33. “Seeing all those airplanes together and hearing all the radial engines, it’s just an amazing thing.”

When the gates opened to the museum’s airstrip Monday morning, a long line of traffic and a large crowd poured onto the grounds.

RELATED:B-25s rumble to AF museum to honor Doolittle Raiders

David Cottrill, 75, of Centerville, remembered the impact the Raiders had on changing the course of World War II in the Pacific. “It told the Japanese people they were not invincible, impregnable …. that they made a mistake” to attack Pearl Harbor, the retired Air Force chaplain said.

‘Very rare opportunity’

John Nicklin, 51, and Kimberly Adamonis, 46, drove to Dayton from Fort Wayne to see the seven-decades-old bombers up close.

“It’s a very rare opportunity to see these pieces of history,” Nicklin said.

“They’re awesome and beautiful actually,” Adamonis said.

Dressed as a World War II “Rosie the riveter,” 27-year-old Alison Beatty, of Ann Arbor, Mich., with three compatriots represented hundreds of thousands of American women who worked in wartime factories to build everything from airplanes to Jeeps.

“We came out to both honor the men who are flying the aircraft and who flew in the Doolittle Raid and to honor the women who built the planes that they went off to flight with,” Beatty said. “That’s why we’re here.”

Beattu represents organizers raising money to save part of a B-24 Liberator factory at Willow Run, Mich.

RELATED:Big celebration in Dayton next week to honor Doolittle Raiders

Also in a ceremony at Wright-Patterson Monday, a B-1B Lancer bomber that flew in from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., was renamed the “Ruptured Duck” after one of the bombers on the Raiders’ mission.

How to go

The public will be allowed to see the B-25s on the museum grounds from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday. A memorial ceremony is set to begin at the museum’s Memorial Park at 2:30 p.m..

B-25 bombers rumble to AF museum to honor Doolittle Raiders

Published: Saturday, April 15, 2017 @ 9:00 AM

Thousands of people swarmed onto the airstrip at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Monday as 11 World War II era B-25s landed to mark the 75th anniversary of the historic Doolittle Raiders attack against Japan.

Eighty U.S. Army Air Corps airmen known as the Doolittle Raiders flew in 16 B-25 bombers off the deck of the USS Hornet to bomb Japan on April 18, 1942, after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, brought the United States into World War II.

RELATED: B-25s will rumble over Dayton

“You will never see this many B-25s again,” said Mick Vision, 78, of Centerville, and a retired Navy commander as the array of B-25s lined the runway next to the Air Force museum.

David Cottrill, 75, a retired Air Force chaplain from Centerville, came out with Vision to remember the impact the Raiders had on changing the course of World War II in the Pacific. “It told the Japanese people they were not invincible, impregnable …. that they made a mistake” in attacking Pearl Harbor, he said.

The public will be allowed to see the aircraft at the museum today from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday. A long line of cars, truck and motorcyles poured onto the grounds Monday morning to see the seven-decade old bombers.

Weather permitting, the rumbling planes were set to fly over the museum’s Memorial Park at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday followed about an hour later at the conclusion of a memorial service of two B-1B Lancer bombers flying out of Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.

RELATED:B-1 bombers will streak through Dayton’s skies

The sole remaining Raider, 101-year-old retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, plans to mark the anniversary Tuesday at the museum.

Cole, a Dayton native who lives in Texas, was co-pilot to bombing raid leader Jimmy Doolittle on the historic mission.

For more information, log onto the museum’s website at www.nationalmuseum.af.mil .